The Second Child by Regina Toffolo is a spellbinding, gorgeously written, and poignant memoir that examines the effects of addiction and mental illness, following the author's painful journey. Raised in Maryland, Regina grew up with an elder sister who was 11 years older than her and two adopted brothers, aged 3 and 4. Her mother grew fonder of her older sister with whom she shared a unique bond. The two created a world of their own, shutting out Regina's other siblings. While her older brother always defended her, she felt hurt when he drifted away as he matured. As a young girl, Toffolo developed a rebellious attitude to meet her mother's expectations of her. So, she started drinking and doing drugs. Many years later, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This book documents her journey from brokenness to healing.
But this is a story that is filled with hope and a wonderful ending, one that includes healing and utter freedom through forgiveness. The author writes about alcoholism, abuse, and generational mental illness with such clarity and honesty that readers become riveted on the pages. The author lifts the veil to allow readers disturbing images of her brokenness, capturing painful moments with courage. Regina Toffolo writes in prose that is beautiful and consistent and she succeeds to weave complex situations with ease while deftly offering a dazzling portrait of her inner world. The family dynamics are cleverly written and in a voice that is assured and steady. This memoir succeeds to deliver a strong sense of pathos, taking readers on a ride through the author's painful journey while portraying the liberating light of hope in healing. The Second Child tugged at the edges of my heart even after I had closed the last page.