Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday Thirteen - Thirteen Things About As the Sycamore Grows

As the Sycamore Grows is a non-fiction narrative about a woman who escaped a padlocked cabin in the woods to become a powerful voice for all victims, and about the man who admitted all the abuse and declared he’d do it again.

This book is unique in that the abuser speaks in his own words and is not demonized.

He believes God made women to serve. It’s their job.

The people in the story are real and raw, no two-dimensional paper dolls or goodie-two-shoes.

Readers will like Ginger, after they forgive her; they may not like Mike, but they won’t hate him.

Threading through the book is loss: alienation of families; a spiritual void; and a death which becomes the wedge that allows Ginger to break free.

As the Sycamore Grows has won three literary awards, been on the cover of Publishers Weekly and is nominated for SIBA Book of the Year and more.

Dateline: NBC filmed Ginger’s story when she graduated from college in 2004 and ran promos of the show but it was bumped for breaking news the night it was to air.

Today Ginger works in the court system, serves on state boards, lobbies the legislature and is a public speaker. She also works with batterers.

Women’s Studies programs on university campuses are adding As the Sycamore Grows to their reading lists.

The book is as popular with men as with women. More men have posted reviews than have women.

As the Sycamore Grows is on the library shelves of all the women’s shelters in Alabama and Georgia.

The book goes beyond abuse. Ginger’s escape from the padlocked cabin left behind hardship and battering; it opened her to hope, power and fulfillment. It’s a story about courage and the resiliency of the human spirit, especially when one can forgive, as Ginger does.

About Jennie Helderman

Jennie Helderman broke the glass ceiling at age ten by becoming the first girl page in the Alabama State Legislature. That surge of girl power wouldn’t be the last time she saw a need to put women’s issues at the forefront. Years later, after she helped set up a crisis-call center in an old house, a cry for help at the other end of the phone line resounded in her head. That call was the catalyst; eventually, the empty bedrooms upstairs served as the community’s first shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

From there, Helderman began work with women’s issues and leadership, community development, public relations and communications, beginning in Gadsden, Alabama, and reaching to national levels. She has championed women’s and children’s issues and worked with child abuse victims. From 2000 until her term expired in 2006, she presided over the six-member board of the Alabama Department of Human Resources, which serves 520,000 clients each month and oversees all family abuse issues in the state.

A 2007 Pushcart Prize nominee, Helderman coauthored two nonfiction books, Christmas Trivia and Hanukkah Trivia and writes profiles for magazines. Previously she chaired the editorial board of the 120,000 circulation alumnae magazine of Kappa Kappa Gamma, The Key.

Her latest book is As the Sycamore Grows. Helderman is married to a retired newspaper publisher; is the mother of two and grandmother of three; and has recently moved from Alabama to Atlanta. Her website address is

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