The Shoebox Effect is Poignant and Encouraging
**PLEASE NOTE: This post and this book contains sequences that may be disturbing to some readers. It may even bring back some bad memories. I do apologize for any sadness and grief this may cause, but do remember...YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOUR PAST!**
As I looked at the cover for Marcie J. Keithley’s The Shoebox Effect: Transforming Pain into Fortitude and Purpose, I never imagined the story that would be told in this incredible book. I was kind of expecting something like Mel Robbins’ The Five Second Rule or Franziska Iseli’s The Courage Map where you get theirs – or other’s – stories mixed in with life lessons, encouragement, motivation, etc.
I was totally wrong!
While reading this book, I actually wrote a note that said, “This book is definitely going to hit you hard. It will make you think, make you feel, and make you remember things you probably don’t want to remember. But, in the end, it will make you stronger and better.”
Read on to learn more.
What is The Shoebox Effect About?
Reading The Shoebox Effect was like reading Ms. Keithley's autobiography, but with doses of inspiration and drive.
Marcie J. Keithley has been through a lot. At the extremely tender age of five, she saw her mom physically abused by her father who then left her, her sister, Judy, and her brother, Butch with him. Thankfully, he never abused them (at least she never mentioned anything in the book), but he was just cold to them, which can be looked at as being just as bad. He never told Marcie he loved her until he was on his death bed.
At nineteen, which was in 1973, she was married with a child. As she stated in her book, “I didn’t understand who I was or what I wanted to do with my life. I was conditioned to just go along with the decisions others made for me.”
Years later, Marcie divorced her husband, Bill, but before she did, she began seeing a man called Roger. They were technically living together, and he loved her daughter, Michele. She had her own apartment, a good job, and everything seemed to be going well, until early in 1978 when Marcie found out she was pregnant with Roger’s baby. When he found out, he left her. He wasn’t ready to have his own children. Now, even though there were a lot of changes being seen for women in the seventies, there was still one thing women had no control over…having a child as a single mother.
"Baby Scoop Era"
Marcie gave birth to her second daughter in November of 1978, who was immediately put up for adoption. She was able to hold her daughter for maybe a minute before she was literally ripped out of her hands and taken to a new family. You see, Marcie gave birth during the “Baby Scoop Era”. If you don’t know what that is, Marcie explains, “I learned about the cruelty of the ‘Baby Scoop Era’ where mothers were blindly separated from their babies, who were then given to strangers for a price. I learned the facts about altered birth certificates, buried details, destroyed records, and the denial of vital, lifesaving information for adoptees.”
Yes, Marcie “agreed” to put her daughter up for adoption because “I’d been abandoned by my baby’s father and forced by a lack of resources and society’s pressure…” However, the way it happens and how she’s treated after letting go of her baby is just disgusting. For example, after Jessica (her newborn daughter) was taken away from her, Marcie, of course, loses it. She starts screaming and crying. A nurse goes to her and instead of consoling her, says, “Get a hold of yourself, young lady. You are disturbing the other patients. You need to put this behind you and forget it ever happened.”
Wow! Just so heartless!
However, Marcie learns to put everything into a shoebox (whether a physical shoebox or a mental one) and hide it. By doing so, you forget about it…until something or someone dredges it back up.
It's Not Sad, It's Uplifting
I know, you probably read all of that and thought, “Oh, goodness. There’s too much sadness in this book. I’m not going to read it.”
Well, yes, there will be times you’ll be crying while reading this book, but do not toss it to the side. The incredible teachings you learn throughout the book are extremely helpful, especially for anybody who has put their child up for adoption or who is an adoptee. As she said in her book, she’s trying to “save others from years of torment…”
Philosophy Starts Each Chapter
One of the things I really liked about this book is how Ms. Keithley started each chapter with a little bit of philosophy. One of my favorites has to be how she started Chapter Nine because it really resonated with me. She wrote, “We all know there are consequences connected to choices, but for some reason, we don’t always expect them in our own circumstances – or at least not in the way they present. Have you ever been blindsided by a cause and effect?”
Ms. Keithley is also a beautiful writer. I can seriously see her writing a fiction story. For example, “The pain of Dreyfus’s [her dog] death disturbed the slumber of my demons, awakening them with an angry vengeance. Renewed and alert from their main years of rest, they came prepared to collect their denied justice.”
That is such a powerful paragraph she used to describe a real-life situation. Imagine if this was a fiction story? Wow! Which brings me to the fact that while reading, you may forget that you’re reading a true story, not a fiction story. There were a couple of times I had to remind myself this was true! I guess I didn’t want to believe so many bad events could happen to one person. I mean, yes, you’re reading this to learn how to overcome adversity, but at the same time you’re reading this and wondering, “When is the pain and suffering going to end?”
And that’s when a scary thought hit me like a ton of bricks, “It never will.”
If there’s one thing I’ve been learning as I go through life, it’s that there will always be the highest ups and the lowest downs. Those downs will try to bog you down and keep you down; however, as you’ll learn from The Shoebox Effect – and from living life – it’s up to you if you’re going to let it keep you down or if you’re going to rise above. As Ms. Keithley wrote, “Refuse to let anyone intimidate, coerce, or oppress you. Fight hard for what you want and need. Resolve not to give up. Don’t let the shoebox effect steal years from your life.”
Me? I will always rise above and fight hard! How about you?
In conclusion, I definitely recommend this book for anyone who has or is facing hard times – especially during this crazy year – but also for anyone who either put their child up for adoption or who is an adoptee. Not only does Ms. Keithley discuss the shoebox effect and overcoming difficulties in life, but she discusses adoption reform and the work she has done for it. Even though she goes back and forth from past to present and the timeline gets a little confusing, the story is still well told, and the lessons are well taught.
To learn more about Marcie J. Keithley and where you can order her book, The Shoebox Effect: Transforming Pain into Fortitude and Purpose, please visit her website.
PS: Don’t forget the Kleenex!
Policies & Disclosure
Please remember I am not getting paid to write this review. I am just a fan and fellow author helping out another great author. To learn more, please check out my Policy page. Also, I would love to hear what you think of this review and of the book, if you’ve read it. You can either comment below (please read my “Comments Policy” on the Policy page before doing so) or contact me.
The photos featured in this post are my photos. The first is my copy of The Shoebox Effect: Transforming Pain into Fortitude and Purpose by Marcie J. Keithley. The second is my “signature photo”, me with my copy of this incredibly powerful book.
**This post was originally published on November 29, 2020**