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By Nicole Martin Salter

IR Rating:
Nicole Martin Salter's WARRIOR IN THE MUD is an uplifting memoir of an extraordinary life, written with skill, insight, and no small amount of courage.
IR Approved
From childhood abuse through an up-and-down adult life that culminated in her husband’s breathtaking betrayal, Nicole Salter tells her story with honesty and conviction.

It is hard to write a memoir. Most people lead mundane lives, and mundane lives don’t sell. Thus, the temptation for those who choose to write about their lives is to embellish the details. This can get the writer in trouble–just ask James Frey, Jayson Blair, or Clifford Irving, the latter who spent seventeen months in prison for faking an autobiography of the reclusive millionaire Howard Hughes.

Good memoirists find a way to balance truth and marketability. Enter Nicole Martin Salter, whose preface to her memoir WARRIOR IN THE MUD mentions that, at the start of the 2020 pandemic, her husband of ten years abruptly left her. “My carefully cultivated identity as a wife and mother,” she writes, “was shattered as he executed a ferociously swift plan to erase my presence from his life, a process that was designed to strip me of my children, my assets, my home and my reputation—in short, everything.” She goes so far as to say her ex “wanted to drive me insane so I would kill myself.” There are bad people in the world, and Salter’s tone isn’t hyperbolic. These lines, then, strike that truth/marketability balance. As does the whole memoir.

Martin Salter grew up in the 1980s as the daughter of an authoritarian Italian mother and a career-criminal Black father. Her narrative winds through childhood abuse, drug addiction, and prostitution—she cleverly calls this “masseuse (not the good kind)”—with detours into unexpected territory, such as building a successful soap-making business. Through it all is her take-me-as-I-am voice, a steadying presence amid her tale’s turbulence. She sometimes does the creative nonfiction thing of pulling in outsider research (“Vaknin, an expert in psychology, also discusses the social pressures to remain married that are found in every culture, not just repressive cultures where divorced women suffer under extreme stigma”). These moments are okay, but as they come at the expense of more of Salter herself, they aren’t preferable. It’s often said that a good writer can produce a compelling story about what she had for lunch. Martin Salter clearly has that gift. That her history is also the stuff of a page-turner means readers won’t be sorry they gave WARRIOR IN THE MUD a try.

Nicole Martin Salter’s WARRIOR IN THE MUD is an uplifting memoir of an extraordinary life, written with skill, insight, and no small amount of courage.

~Anthony Aycock for IndieReader

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