STRIP: A MEMOIR
Author Hannah Sward tells the story of her life and work in the sex industry.
Hannah Sward was abandoned by her mother at the age of two, and brought up by her father, poet Robert Sward. Hannah lived on a houseboat near Victoria, Lasqueti Island, with no cars, stores, and few people. Hannah describes a simple life, living off the land and sea, with fun filled summers spent in Florida with her mother and her half-sister, Rilke. Hannah dreamed of becoming an actress or dancer, and made a pledge with her sister to move to California when they were older. When her father leaves for a trip to India, Hannah is left with his girlfriend, Alina, but spends much of her time alone. One day, while playing at a park alone, Hannah is abducted by a man in a brown car and sexually assaulted. The police are called, and Hannah is examined, but no-one mentions the incident again. Her father and Alina marry, and Alina has a baby boy named Alex. When Hannah and Alex are left alone with a young male babysitter, Hannah is repeatedly sexually abused in the family home.
At the age of twenty-two, after studying in Montreal, working as an escort in Chicago, and living with an older man in Miami, Hannah moved to Los Angeles with her sister. But their dreams of becoming successful actresses did not work out as planned, as Rilke worked as a burlesque dancer, while Hannah found more work as an escort. As Hannah struggles to make ends meet, she turns to crystal meth to help cope with her reality. She finds a respectable office job and starts to see a therapist, but jeopardises both when she replaces her drug of choice with alcohol. As Hannah spirals further into addiction, she must confront her past to move forward with her life.
Strip: A Memoir, is a deeply moving and personal memoir by Hannah Sward about her childhood growing up in the 1970’s, and her adult life working as a stripper and escort in Los Angeles. Sward’s writing is raw, honest, and at times difficult to read. She describes the pain of being abandoned by her mother, the enduring trauma of abuse, the reality of sex work, and the impact of drug addiction. But she does not dwell on any of these incidents, she does not criticise, and she does not blame. She describes her experience in her own words, with no judgment of others. Sward’s story is heart-breaking. Her journey is inspiring.
Star rating: 5 Stars
Summary: A deeply moving and personal memoir about one woman’s life working as a stripper and escort in Los Angeles.