The best books of true events based on finding peace, freedom, forgivenesses due to family history, secrets, and abuse

Why am I passionate about this?

Jamilla Counts born in Chicago during 1973 and raised in Memphis, Tennessee where she currently resides now. Graduated from Pulaski Technical college in Arkansas. Moving on to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock presuing a Bachelor's Degree in Social work. I'm featured in a book released by Tiffany Ludwig in the Rutgers University Press; Fifth or Later Edition (November 30, 2007) called Trappings: Stories of Women, Power, and Clothing, I'm a single parent of two daughters and one grandchild.


I wrote...

A Counts Duty: Assembling the Pieces of Me

By Jamilla Counts, Madison Lawson (editor),

Book cover of A Counts Duty: Assembling the Pieces of Me

What is my book about?

Memories of Jamilla Counts' beloved mother haunted her until she decided to research her lineage in search of answers. Who was she? Why did the people in her life grow silent when she asked about her mother’s murder that happened at the age of six? Later in time it soon became evident that her story of hope and endurance was one that needed to be told. It took many years for the author to get to the place where her mother was laid to rest. "As a child," the author explains, “I never felt I got the proper opportunity to say goodbye.” Traveling to find the place where she lay was life-changing and became the basis for her new book.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Mommie Dearest

Jamilla Counts Why did I love this book?

An insightful book based on her agonizing childhood abuse that was first published in 1978, it brought global attention to the subject of hidden family secrets within public figures. During this time I was living my family pain. I couldn't stop shedding tears for Christina, reading this book of a young girl shown off to the world as a fortunate little princess. A lot like my mother, being dragged around the world in front of the media for Ahmad and Maryam Jamal especially during their awful divorce.

Shedding light on the guarded world of Hollywood. Giving us a look into Christina's relentless, alcoholic abuser: her adoptive mother, movie star Joan Crawford. Becoming an adult, Christina struggled for her independence like many stars do today.

By Christina Crawford,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mommie Dearest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 40th anniversary edition of the "shocking" #1 New York Times bestseller with an exclusive new introduction by the author (Los Angeles Times).

When Christina Crawford's harrowing chronicle of child abuse was first published in 1978, it brought global attention to the previously closeted subject. It also shed light on the guarded world of Hollywood and stripped away the facade of Christina's relentless, alcoholic abuser: her adoptive mother, movie star Joan Crawford.

Christina was a young girl shown off to the world as a fortunate little princess. But at home, her lonely, controlling, even ruthless mother made her life a…


Book cover of Gal: A True Life

Jamilla Counts Why did I love this book?

A true story of a young Black woman who chooses to protect the privacy of her family and friends in her writing. Born in 1961, and raised in the South. Facing years of brutal abuse from the man she knew as "Daddy," she seemed to be headed along a long and bumpy path.

Gal managed to complete high school. After further difficulties with drugs, alcohol, and men, she was finally able to turn her life around.  An inspiring story of inner strength and the healing effects of love.

By Ruthie Bolton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born in 1961 to a thirteen-year-old mother in South Carolina, Ruthie Bolton endured abandonment, abuse, and loss-and grew into a hardened, troubled young woman. Then she met a man who offered her something she'd never known, something she thought was a dirty word: love. The only challenge left was to accept it.

"A gift to readers...The storyteller's memory, eye for detail, and ear for dialogue are so compelling that in private conversation one would be leaning toward her so as to catch every word." (Washington Post Book World)

"Vivid...inspiring...impossible to forget." (Newsweek)

"It's a book about being human, and as…


Book cover of A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, A Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home

Jamilla Counts Why did I love this book?

Searching for a sense of family and belonging. Steve searches for his biological parents, but no one in the government system can help him. No one can tell him why, with obvious African-American features with the last name of Klakowicz. Puts me in the mind of why no one in my family can tell me why I'm named after the household maid.

It was impossible to drag me from the book. A Chance In The World is the unbelievable true story told by Steve Pemberton about this broken boy destined to become a man of resilience and vision. The book was turned into a movie.

By Steve Pemberton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Chance in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Pemberton's beautifully told story is a rags to riches journey-beginning in a place and with a jarring set of experiences that could have destroyed his life. But Steve's refusal to give in to those forces, and his resolve to create a better life, shows a courage and resilience that is an example for many of us to follow."

-Stedman Graham, author, educator

Home is the place where our life stories begin. A Chance in the World is the astonishing true story of a boy destined to become a man of

resilience determination and vision.

Down in the dank basement, amidst…


Book cover of Starting Over

Jamilla Counts Why did I love this book?

In an account sure to send shock waves around the world. La Toya sheds new light on the dynamics of the Jackson family in her book Starting Over, many times in my life this has occurred. The Hollywood curtains of secrecy surrounded this whole family since they became stars in the ’60s and ’70s. Being a fan of Micheal Jackson for decades. This was a must-read. I could feel his pain with "The Man in Mirror," in my case woman. We share the same birthday just fifteen years apart.

This book has touched the hearts of the millions who are fans of the Jacksons. This memoir can inspire anyone to pick up the pieces of their life with a positive outcome.

By La Toya Jackson, Jeffré Phillips,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Starting Over as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

La Toya Jackson was always closer to Michael than anyone knew. In this heartfelt memoir, she pays tribute to his tortured soul—revealing the intimate moments she shared with the deeply troubled pop legend. The first sibling to arrive at the hospital after Michael was rushed there, and the informant on his death certificate, La Toya noticed suspicious details and demanded a second autopsy. For the first time, she unveils shocking behind-the-scenes dealings that she believes led to her brother’s death, and she provides unprecedented insight into the destruction of one of the most dynamic artist/performers in history.

In an account…


Book cover of Inside, I Am Surviving

Jamilla Counts Why did I love this book?

This book written by Ellen Middleton is based on a true story of a little girl who grows up in adulthood to face motherhood, grief, rape, sexuality issues, and mental health.

It gives you this sense of right and wrong. She has a good sense of humour at the same time.

She finds the ability to love no matter what pain endured at the hands of others. Being let down by those who are supposed to love and care for you is heartbreaking.

By Ellen Middleton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inside, I Am Surviving as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is based on a true story. It highlights the worst child abuse while the author maintains a strong sense of right and wrong, a good sense of humour, and the ability to love no matter what pain she is forced to endure at the hands of others.


You might also like...

Marriage and Fatherhood in the Nazi SS

By Amy Carney,

Book cover of Marriage and Fatherhood in the Nazi SS

Amy Carney Author Of Marriage and Fatherhood in the Nazi SS

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Historian Professor Curl up with a good book reader Traveler – Berlin is my happy place!

Amy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When I was writing this book, several of my friends jokingly called it the Nazi baby book, with one insisting it would make a great title. Nazi Babies – admittedly, that is a catchy title, but that’s not exactly what my book is about. SS babies would be slightly more on topic, but it would be more accurate to say that I wrote a book about SS men as husbands and fathers.

From 1931 to 1945, leaders of the SS, a paramilitary group under the Nazi party, sought to transform their organization into a racially-elite family community that would serve…

Marriage and Fatherhood in the Nazi SS

By Amy Carney,

What is this book about?

From 1931 to 1945, leaders of the SS, a paramilitary group under the Nazi party, sought to transform their organization into a racially-elite family community that would serve as the Third Reich's new aristocracy. They utilized the science of eugenics to convince SS men to marry suitable wives and have many children.

Marriage and Fatherhood in the Nazi SS by Amy Carney is the first work to significantly assess the role of SS men as husbands and fathers during the Third Reich. The family community, and the place of men in this community, started with one simple order issued by…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in movie stars, South Carolina, and child abuse?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about movie stars, South Carolina, and child abuse.

Movie Stars Explore 50 books about movie stars
South Carolina Explore 48 books about South Carolina
Child Abuse Explore 58 books about child abuse