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When She Comes Back : A Memoir

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Ronit was six years old when her mother left her and her four-year-old sister for India to follow a guru. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose commune was responsible for the largest biological attack on U.S. soil, preached that children were hindrances and encouraged sterilizations among his followers. Luckily Ronit's father, who'd left the family the previous year, stepped up a Ronit was six years old when her mother left her and her four-year-old sister for India to follow a guru. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose commune was responsible for the largest biological attack on U.S. soil, preached that children were hindrances and encouraged sterilizations among his followers. Luckily Ronit's father, who'd left the family the previous year, stepped up and brought the girls to live with him first in Newark, New Jersey, and later in Flushing, Queens. On the surface, his nurturing was the balm Ronit sought, but she soon paid a second emotional price, taking on the role of partner and confidant to him, and substitute mother to her sister. By the end of her childhood, Ronit would discover she had lost her mother and the close and trusting relationship she once had with her father. Though they have now reconciled, for years she grappled with the toll her mother's leaving took, measuring her self-worth and capacity for love by that absence. When She Comes Back is the story of a family trying to find itself, grownups who don't know how to be adults, and what happens when the person your life revolves around can't stay. It's also a story of resilience and reconciliation, how rejection by the most important person in Ronit's life ultimately led to an unflagging commitment to, and love for her own children.


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Ronit was six years old when her mother left her and her four-year-old sister for India to follow a guru. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose commune was responsible for the largest biological attack on U.S. soil, preached that children were hindrances and encouraged sterilizations among his followers. Luckily Ronit's father, who'd left the family the previous year, stepped up a Ronit was six years old when her mother left her and her four-year-old sister for India to follow a guru. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose commune was responsible for the largest biological attack on U.S. soil, preached that children were hindrances and encouraged sterilizations among his followers. Luckily Ronit's father, who'd left the family the previous year, stepped up and brought the girls to live with him first in Newark, New Jersey, and later in Flushing, Queens. On the surface, his nurturing was the balm Ronit sought, but she soon paid a second emotional price, taking on the role of partner and confidant to him, and substitute mother to her sister. By the end of her childhood, Ronit would discover she had lost her mother and the close and trusting relationship she once had with her father. Though they have now reconciled, for years she grappled with the toll her mother's leaving took, measuring her self-worth and capacity for love by that absence. When She Comes Back is the story of a family trying to find itself, grownups who don't know how to be adults, and what happens when the person your life revolves around can't stay. It's also a story of resilience and reconciliation, how rejection by the most important person in Ronit's life ultimately led to an unflagging commitment to, and love for her own children.

30 review for When She Comes Back : A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Keema Waterfield

    “When She Comes Back” is a riveting coming-of-age memoir about a family that doesn’t quite know how to belong to itself. I was entirely drawn in by young Ronit as she struggled to make sense of the adults in her world. Ronit’s mother, a seeker who feels lost in motherhood and chooses to settle into the embrace of a charismatic cult leader rather than with her children; and Ronit’s father, who’s love for his children is not enough to protect and nurture them in some of the most important ways you “When She Comes Back” is a riveting coming-of-age memoir about a family that doesn’t quite know how to belong to itself. I was entirely drawn in by young Ronit as she struggled to make sense of the adults in her world. Ronit’s mother, a seeker who feels lost in motherhood and chooses to settle into the embrace of a charismatic cult leader rather than with her children; and Ronit’s father, who’s love for his children is not enough to protect and nurture them in some of the most important ways young girls need. Throughout, Plank interrogates her childhood with a clear-eyed compassion, allowing her parents to show themselves on the page without judgement. They are flawed humans with mystifying foibles, against which background our young narrator is forced to eek out a sense of self. Who is she as a motherless girl? How can she be her father’s confidante and her sister’s role model, and still be a person with her own needs and wants? I ached for Ronit’s loneliness, for her confusion and her trembling heart. And I celebrated with her, too, when her innate resilience led her to a successful partnership, an all-new experience in motherhood, and ultimately, the kind of reconciliation many only dream of.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Becky Aud-Jennison

    I could not put this book down. Having recently binged on the docu-series, Wild, Wild Country, which expands on the guru who the author's mother followed, I was left wondering about where all the children were. Had they been left? They certainly weren't seen. When I made the connection between the series and this book I was anxious to get some answers– at least about one family's experience. What I found was a fascinating account that pulled me into this wee child's journey. Being a therapist, I I could not put this book down. Having recently binged on the docu-series, Wild, Wild Country, which expands on the guru who the author's mother followed, I was left wondering about where all the children were. Had they been left? They certainly weren't seen. When I made the connection between the series and this book I was anxious to get some answers– at least about one family's experience. What I found was a fascinating account that pulled me into this wee child's journey. Being a therapist, I'm always morbidly curious about what makes people tick– especially in challenging times. The author's ability to describe the moments throughout her childhood while also giving insight into how she was processing what was happening, intermingled with her adult hindsight, had me gripped. Her ability to dance between the adoration and abandonment, the desperation, denial, and delight as she unpacked this history provided a beautifully thorough exposé. And the truth and turmoil underlying her parent's lives and choices illustrates the layers of imperfection that make us all, as well as the redeeming power of love. There were tears as this book ended. In part, for the wee lonely, longing little girl, but more for the author who has found everything she was always looking for. Thanks Ronit Plank for letting us come along on your journey.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Travel.with.a.book

    An emotional memoir that merges strength, desertion, childhood trauma in fascinatingly rich detail that will shatter your heart. The Author has put soul into the powerful lines of the book and has created a stunning memoir that it is brutally honest and thought-provoking with some very inspiring moments! The book transported me into the 1970s and 1980s in enthrallingly different settings with vivid details— an incredible journey! . The relationship between a mother and her kids is unique and the A An emotional memoir that merges strength, desertion, childhood trauma in fascinatingly rich detail that will shatter your heart. The Author has put soul into the powerful lines of the book and has created a stunning memoir that it is brutally honest and thought-provoking with some very inspiring moments! The book transported me into the 1970s and 1980s in enthrallingly different settings with vivid details— an incredible journey! . The relationship between a mother and her kids is unique and the Author has portrayed that in a mind-blowing manner; the difficulties within that bond and the trauma is so emotional and written with heart-wrenching perspective, and the astonishing details of her mother leaving them and coming back, I couldn't stop reading it, Ronit's style of writing is full of suspense in the most emotional way! . The Author in her memoir WHEN SHE COMES BACK has amazed me with the topics of loneliness, uncertainty, resilience, abandonment! The book is everything a memoir should be: engrossing, beautifully written and brave in every aspect, it was impossible for me to put it down. Ronit tells the morally complex story of her early Years when her mother abandons her family because of a cult, and she is left alone with her father and her younger sister, the struggles she has to overcome and the trauma are the highlights that are shaped in a very intriguing way! It really is a story I will not soon forget!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh Renard

    Our experiences in childhood have the potential to mold us forever. In this remarkable debut, Ronit Plank shapes the reader’s understanding of abandonment, growing up too fast, and ultimately, how working through these challenges laid the foundation for love in her own family.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Meg Butterworth

    It takes courage to open yourself up and share your heartaches and disappointments. It takes more courage to work through them and come to a place of relative acceptance and understanding. That's the journey Ronit takes her readers on in her memoir. Ronit shows us the challenges of being a parent, of being a child and of being human. Regardless of your own childhood experience, family dynamics or current stage in life, there's so much to relate to in her story and so much to learn from. It takes courage to open yourself up and share your heartaches and disappointments. It takes more courage to work through them and come to a place of relative acceptance and understanding. That's the journey Ronit takes her readers on in her memoir. Ronit shows us the challenges of being a parent, of being a child and of being human. Regardless of your own childhood experience, family dynamics or current stage in life, there's so much to relate to in her story and so much to learn from.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Missy Ponder-Reston

    Ms. Plank has bravely mosaicked her incredible story of childhood and her loss. Her memoir is vivid, complex and captivating taking us through her mothers choices. From her joining a cult, leaving her daughters and the consequences that shape the author, her sister, and her father. I found myself emotional and living through her story understanding how generations behave and a mothers love shapes our consciences and culture. I couldn't stop reading her sea of waves flowing, beating her down and Ms. Plank has bravely mosaicked her incredible story of childhood and her loss. Her memoir is vivid, complex and captivating taking us through her mothers choices. From her joining a cult, leaving her daughters and the consequences that shape the author, her sister, and her father. I found myself emotional and living through her story understanding how generations behave and a mothers love shapes our consciences and culture. I couldn't stop reading her sea of waves flowing, beating her down and riding each chapter to her personal shore. Thank you for sharing this intimate truth.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Garpestad

    This book was captivating from start to finish and I had to force myself to put it down, yet still finished it in less than 24 hours. The author told the story in such a way that I felt like I was sharing her heartbreaks, joys, questions about her family. I grew up in a family so vastly different from this one, our experiences completely different, yet I still felt so connected. A notable part of this book for me was how it spoke to how words spoken to a child, even casual and jokingly, can chan This book was captivating from start to finish and I had to force myself to put it down, yet still finished it in less than 24 hours. The author told the story in such a way that I felt like I was sharing her heartbreaks, joys, questions about her family. I grew up in a family so vastly different from this one, our experiences completely different, yet I still felt so connected. A notable part of this book for me was how it spoke to how words spoken to a child, even casual and jokingly, can change the very person that they become. This is a very compelling story about our relationship with our parents, our place in our families (and the world), forgivenesses, and searching for peace.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rajiv

    [Blog]::[Youtube]::[Twitter]::[Instagram]::[Pinterest]::[Bloglovin] I recently saw the “Wild Wild Country” documentary on Netflix about the Rajneesh movement’s controversy in the 70s/80s. Reading “When She Comes Back” is a beautiful memoir that mentions how a family’s life changes when the mother gets involved in the movement. To begin with, I enjoyed the way the author narrated her childhood. She writes the memoir in a simple yet effective manner, where you immediately feel like you are part [Blog]::[Youtube]::[Twitter]::[Instagram]::[Pinterest]::[Bloglovin] I recently saw the “Wild Wild Country” documentary on Netflix about the Rajneesh movement’s controversy in the 70s/80s. Reading “When She Comes Back” is a beautiful memoir that mentions how a family’s life changes when the mother gets involved in the movement. To begin with, I enjoyed the way the author narrated her childhood. She writes the memoir in a simple yet effective manner, where you immediately feel like you are part of the family. Moreover, I loved the family photos she put in to add a personal touch to the book. The highlight of the tale is Ronit’s relationship with her mother. The author beautifully toggles between the present and the past, as Ronit tries to find out why her mother left them and if they were to blame. On a side note, I also loved the Jewish references, and I felt like I learned more about their culture, like “Sabra” and “Kibbutz.” Moreover, my heart went out to the author while reading the book. The author goes through so many changes, especially with the relationship of her parents. On the one hand, her mother disappears to India to follow the movement, and on the other hand, her father is busy with his new family. In many ways, I applaud the author for growing up and leading an ordinary life, even though she had a rocky upbringing. However, some of the passages haunted me, especially the Halloween incident and when she finds her father’s magazines. Overall, “When She Comes Back” is an emotional memoir of the author who talks about how situations from her childhood impacted the choices in her life. I recommend this to anyone who loves memoirs and would like to know more about families affected by the Rajneesh movement during the time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    David Morgan

    The author's journey from abandonment to reconciliation. She was born in a kibbutz in Israel to parents who were reticent to get married while searching for community. When she was four her parents moved to Seattle to what was the beginning of the end to their relationship. Her parents split and her father moves across the country to New Jersey leaving her and her younger sister with a mother who's uncomfortable with her role as a mother and still searching. When she was six her mother decides to The author's journey from abandonment to reconciliation. She was born in a kibbutz in Israel to parents who were reticent to get married while searching for community. When she was four her parents moved to Seattle to what was the beginning of the end to their relationship. Her parents split and her father moves across the country to New Jersey leaving her and her younger sister with a mother who's uncomfortable with her role as a mother and still searching. When she was six her mother decides to leave the girls with their father while she moves to India to follow the cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. What was supposed to be just a few months turned into a much longer separation leaving the author to assume responsibility of her sister while trying to find her place with her father. Always present is the absence of her mother, even when she does come back it's never for long leaving the author to search for meaning and her own place in the world. Wonderfully told, expressing the vulnerabilities and fears of a child missing her mother. The joys of the fleeting moments her mom was around and her apprehensions of living with her father. Although painful at times, I appreciated the author's journey from her childhood through adulthood and her resiliency and determination to come to terms with her history. I've read a few memoirs where the father is the one to abandon their family but this was the first where the mother leaves. I experienced all the emotions, heartache, confusion and fears through the detailed retelling of her story. Congratulations to the author for coming out the other side as a whole person who's able to enjoy life, her family and yes, even her parents. . . Thank you to the author, Motina Books and Suzy Approved Book Tours for the gifted copy and including me on this tour.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Honaker

    Oh to have a half star- this is a 4.5, not a 4! The premise of this memoir catches you right off- children abandoned by a mother who joins a cult and how the mother-daughter relationship transforms when the mother comes back. I am always fascinated by the allure of cults, and Ronit Plank's book revealed some of that through her thorough research and brave examination of her family's life. Even though she had every right to be judgmental, there is not a feeling of judgement, more an exploration o Oh to have a half star- this is a 4.5, not a 4! The premise of this memoir catches you right off- children abandoned by a mother who joins a cult and how the mother-daughter relationship transforms when the mother comes back. I am always fascinated by the allure of cults, and Ronit Plank's book revealed some of that through her thorough research and brave examination of her family's life. Even though she had every right to be judgmental, there is not a feeling of judgement, more an exploration of what must have been missing for her mother to drive the decision to leave. There is definitely the loneliness felt by the author and the need for approval that stemmed from her mother's departure, but I always felt the love she held in her heart. I appreciated Plank's honesty about her feelings of unworthiness, struggle with body image, and self-acceptance. She conveys it all in a way that is relatable for anybody, not just someone in her situation. Her quirky persistence jumps off the page as she navigates living with her father, poverty, stepmothers, and her own relationships. I applaud her dedication to having her parents in her life, despite the past. I'm not sure I would have the courage. If you loved The Glass Castle, pick When She Comes Back up- it is a quick, engaging read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jodie (Geauxgetlit)

    Hands down one of the best memoirs I have ever read! I was completely intoxicated with Ronit’s story and couldn’t put the book down. Ronit’s mother basically abandoned her kids leaving them with their father. Ronit being the oldest took on the role of being the woman in the house before the tender age of ten! She showed strength and determination and when she became a teenager she began to realize that was a fuzzy line that she shouldn’t be the woman of the house. Once she became a mother, it wa Hands down one of the best memoirs I have ever read! I was completely intoxicated with Ronit’s story and couldn’t put the book down. Ronit’s mother basically abandoned her kids leaving them with their father. Ronit being the oldest took on the role of being the woman in the house before the tender age of ten! She showed strength and determination and when she became a teenager she began to realize that was a fuzzy line that she shouldn’t be the woman of the house. Once she became a mother, it was then that she finally saw how her past with love and abandonment had shaped her life. A very courageous and resilient mother she became, not everyone is so fortunate to have that ahha moment and are determined to not repeat those same mistakes that was the foundation of her childhood. Brilliant debut and I highly recommend!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Randi (randi_reads)

    When She Comes Back is a beautifully written memoir that I finished in two sittings. Ronit's mother leaves her young children with their father to join a cult. This memoir explores the issue of abandonment with why her mother would leave them and choose not to return. It is a very detailed account of her childhood and making her way through it with their father. I liked how the author used her experiences in her childhood later in life as an adult. I also liked how, as an adult, she was able to When She Comes Back is a beautifully written memoir that I finished in two sittings. Ronit's mother leaves her young children with their father to join a cult. This memoir explores the issue of abandonment with why her mother would leave them and choose not to return. It is a very detailed account of her childhood and making her way through it with their father. I liked how the author used her experiences in her childhood later in life as an adult. I also liked how, as an adult, she was able to have some sort of relationship with her mother and father. Thank you to Suzy Approved Book Tours and the author for a gifted copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Parris Bonds

    Last night, I finished reading When She Comes Back with my heart in my throat and tears in my eyes. Ms. Plank elucidates how the spirit of even a mere child can triumph over the obstacles life (and adults) place in our paths. It touched a nerve within me that I could so readily identify. Superbly written, When She Comes Back truly is one of those rare "Gorilla-glued" books one cannot put down. Last night, I finished reading When She Comes Back with my heart in my throat and tears in my eyes. Ms. Plank elucidates how the spirit of even a mere child can triumph over the obstacles life (and adults) place in our paths. It touched a nerve within me that I could so readily identify. Superbly written, When She Comes Back truly is one of those rare "Gorilla-glued" books one cannot put down.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    How is a child's and young woman's life shaped by a deep and singular longing? What is a mother's duty to her children? What happens when a young mother tries to follow her bliss and seek her own sense of fulfillment? How does a single father raise two young daughters by himself in a city while also trying to date and have a career in a time where single dad's are virtually unheard of? This is a memoir that will break your heart, make you laugh and cringe as you remember your own childhood, ask How is a child's and young woman's life shaped by a deep and singular longing? What is a mother's duty to her children? What happens when a young mother tries to follow her bliss and seek her own sense of fulfillment? How does a single father raise two young daughters by himself in a city while also trying to date and have a career in a time where single dad's are virtually unheard of? This is a memoir that will break your heart, make you laugh and cringe as you remember your own childhood, ask questions about your own sense of duty to family and self, and make you fall in love with the plucky, honest, funny, sweet, awkward young Ronit. In When She Comes Back : A Memoir, Plank details the loss of her mother to guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh when she moves to ashrams in India and Oregon. Full of incredible characters and far-flung locales -- a kibbutz in the "armpit of Israel;" the young grimy city of Seattle, before it was cool to be grungy, in the 70's; Brooklyn and New Jersey in the 80's; ashrams; and then later, home again to Seattle -- the memoir is full of juicy details of the time periods of Plank's childhood and young adulthood that shimmer off the page. I could not put this book down. I had to keep turning pages to see if this bright spirit would get what she so desperately wanted or if not, then what she needed. Read it and weep, read it and laugh, read it and cheer on this little girl and perhaps, your own young self. Read it and remember your own hometown, your roller rink, the music of your childhood, your pizza parlors, your movie theater, your swimming pool, your first day of school, your school-age crushes, your summer sleep-away camps with awful sandwiches and watered-down drinks, the first time you held someone's hand, and awkward family parties with casually cruel relatives. This book will transport you, delight you and challenge your assumptions about the passionate desires of children and motherhood. I am grateful to have read it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Runyon

    I read it in one session. The importance of rituals, the tenderness of a childs development, impressions of family, place, friends, community, sexuality and self were exquisitely described. The difficultly of a woman's development without a mothers presence and constancy were first and foremost, even with the presence of a father. Everything that happened contributed to this authors work, family and community. The fact that this family still celebrates together is a testament to love. I read it in one session. The importance of rituals, the tenderness of a childs development, impressions of family, place, friends, community, sexuality and self were exquisitely described. The difficultly of a woman's development without a mothers presence and constancy were first and foremost, even with the presence of a father. Everything that happened contributed to this authors work, family and community. The fact that this family still celebrates together is a testament to love.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Curran

    When She Comes Back touched my heart. I listened to the audio version, and hearing Ronit reading her own memories made me hang on every word. Her writing is brilliant; clever descriptions that transform you to points in time and the emotions she felt trying to make sense of the often uncertain world around her. Her memoir evokes so many feelings, you can't stop reading/listening. Looking forward to more from Ronit Plank. Thank you for sharing your story! When She Comes Back touched my heart. I listened to the audio version, and hearing Ronit reading her own memories made me hang on every word. Her writing is brilliant; clever descriptions that transform you to points in time and the emotions she felt trying to make sense of the often uncertain world around her. Her memoir evokes so many feelings, you can't stop reading/listening. Looking forward to more from Ronit Plank. Thank you for sharing your story!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa L. Lewis

    Ronit Plank's memoir is filled with aching specificity about the loneliness of a childhood where she was repeatedly abandoned by her mother, who was in search of her own fulfillment (including by joining a cult in India), and her own journey toward understanding. Beautifully written. Ronit Plank's memoir is filled with aching specificity about the loneliness of a childhood where she was repeatedly abandoned by her mother, who was in search of her own fulfillment (including by joining a cult in India), and her own journey toward understanding. Beautifully written.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rachel A

    Oof. I just finished reading this book and wanted to review it while the tears were still rolling down my cheek, emotions running high. I've never read a book that speaks of childhood with such honesty and introspection. The details in the stories Ronit recounts for the reader create a sense of place and a mood - when she feels scared, I read a little faster to find out what is going to happen. Little Ronit, what a character -- mucking it up for the guy at the gas station, stopping to eat snacks Oof. I just finished reading this book and wanted to review it while the tears were still rolling down my cheek, emotions running high. I've never read a book that speaks of childhood with such honesty and introspection. The details in the stories Ronit recounts for the reader create a sense of place and a mood - when she feels scared, I read a little faster to find out what is going to happen. Little Ronit, what a character -- mucking it up for the guy at the gas station, stopping to eat snacks at each house in the kibbutz... I love her! I appreciate that Ronit doesn't gloss over her own imperfections and it is refreshing to read her honesty and vulnerability. Ronit writes about her thoughts and feelings so matter-of-factly, which is such a fascinating juxtaposition to the uncertainty and insecurity she was feeling at the time. As the reader, her directness makes me feel safe knowing the little girl in the stories is going to be okay. She writes from a place of knowing and wisdom. Her perspective is new to me and I appreciate it. I love her self-deprecating humor about her child self. The portraits she paints of her mom and dad are 3-dimensional - both flawed and her whole world. I want to call the people in this book characters, because they are so interesting and "well developed", but I know they are real and that makes it even more compelling.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Brand

    In When She Comes Back, author Ronit Plank crafts vivid scenes and brings us along for the wild ride of her growing-up years. She drops us right into the middle of family life punctuated by familiar food and pop culture memories of the 1970s and ‘80s — while at the same time drawing the reader wholeheartedly into the central narrative around parental absence. There’s an unflinching honesty to the author’s portrayal of her often-difficult home life and relationships, yet she manages to shine the In When She Comes Back, author Ronit Plank crafts vivid scenes and brings us along for the wild ride of her growing-up years. She drops us right into the middle of family life punctuated by familiar food and pop culture memories of the 1970s and ‘80s — while at the same time drawing the reader wholeheartedly into the central narrative around parental absence. There’s an unflinching honesty to the author’s portrayal of her often-difficult home life and relationships, yet she manages to shine the light of inquiry on herself with equal intensity. Beyond the heartrending story of a little girl and her sister left to grow up mainly without their mother, what struck me is the author’s depiction of the inner life of a girl whose passion for food, desire to fit in, and confusion around adolescence are all entirely relatable. Reading When She Comes Back made me want to hug the author along with a younger version of myself, and my own daughter, all at once. It’s a story with an imperfectly redemptive ending — a humanizing and compassionate portrait of a family, warts and all. On top of all that, the audio version, narrated by the author with superb diction and voice, is a treat.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mark W.

    Having recently become acquainted with Ronit I was looking forward to reading her memior and hearing more of her story. I was not disappointed, her story was captivating from beginning to end. A journey of sadness and searching for answers from childhood into adulthood and ultimately finding her path forward. A great story of triumph over what life often throws at us and how we can come out stronger and wiser if we try.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    “That’s one of the most damaging legacies of leaving children: the doubt they carry that they’re good enough to stick around for. I know I’ve struggled with that my whole life.” “In order to survive I needed to believe I had the power to change her mind, that I could find a way to make her stay. I didn’t realize for a long time, not until I had children myself, that it wasn’t up to me to keep her with me. I couldn’t have faced that truth when I was young because then, besides not having her with “That’s one of the most damaging legacies of leaving children: the doubt they carry that they’re good enough to stick around for. I know I’ve struggled with that my whole life.” “In order to survive I needed to believe I had the power to change her mind, that I could find a way to make her stay. I didn’t realize for a long time, not until I had children myself, that it wasn’t up to me to keep her with me. I couldn’t have faced that truth when I was young because then, besides not having her with me, I no longer would have had hope that I could ever get her back.” Today I was able to read Ronit’s memoir that described how her life was affected by her mom coming in and out of her life. I found these above statements ones that reflect her book so well. Many have had fathers walk away from their families, but to have your Mother be the one to walk away is so hard to understand. Ronit’s mother had an abusive upbringing, which left a significant impact on her ability to be a mother. In her search for belonging, she left on 2 different occasions which were meant to be temporary, to follow cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Once to India and lastly to the Oregon commune until its split after the leader attempted to flee the country. When in the USA, most of her upbringing was left in the hands of her father, although he was the one to initially start the breakdown of their family when he had an affair. As a mother, I could especially understand the anger Ronit felt about her mother after she too had children of her own. The pain Ronit felt was very palpable in her writing and made me want to immediately go outside to play with and love on my own children. I enjoyed Ronit’s story of her upbringing and think you would, too! I am honored to be an early reader. Thanks to @ronitplank and @suzyapprovedbooktours for my copy of the book!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Heise

    In the last few heart-wrenching pages of this magnificent book, I shushed the guy playing loud party videos lounging next to us on the beach. I wanted to soak up every satisfying, unimaginable word uninterrupted and didn’t mind risking a fight with a stranger to get it. Ronit Plank’s story gives voice to the specific kind of despair of a girl growing up without the steady presence of a mother. I too had this experience. Although our mothers escaped to wildly different destinations (hers joined a In the last few heart-wrenching pages of this magnificent book, I shushed the guy playing loud party videos lounging next to us on the beach. I wanted to soak up every satisfying, unimaginable word uninterrupted and didn’t mind risking a fight with a stranger to get it. Ronit Plank’s story gives voice to the specific kind of despair of a girl growing up without the steady presence of a mother. I too had this experience. Although our mothers escaped to wildly different destinations (hers joined an actual cult, mine went back to live with her own mother, irony of ironies) I recognized myself as a kid navigating hairstyles and the fit of clothes with no mom. Losing a pet and worrying if you are terrible at love because you aren’t getting enough of it yourself. I have never read anything that came so close to mirroring my own emotional state at that time. “Something was missing: that part of me that had earned her unconditional love and her approval. I was too much...(t)oo loud, too insistent. I didn’t have that magical ingredient most kids had that forms the glue of their relationship with their mother. Kids may not realize they have that power over their parents, but they can feel it when it’s absent. They scramble, they perform, or maybe they step away and stop trying. Not me. I tried for years and years. I was afraid of her absence. What it could do to me..” The icing on the cake is Ronit’s skillful jumps in time to being a mother now, looking back at herself as a child with the maternal instincts she now has. I understand myself better for having read it. Thank you Ronit. Highly recommend—and I’m sending a copy to my mother & sibs in hopes that it will be the catalyst for healing we have all needed for decades.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Warren

    Smart. Witty. Engaging. In the memoir “When She Comes Back” author Ronit Plank transports the reader into the 1970s-1980s as she navigates emigrating from Israel to the U.S. As a young child, Plank went from a supportive, communal, cohesive and socially nurturing environment on the kibbutz, to a new and unfamiliar country shrouded in a wet, isolated, and cold reality: Seattle, WA. After some time, Plank’s father decides to end the marriage to her mother, separates from the family, and relocates t Smart. Witty. Engaging. In the memoir “When She Comes Back” author Ronit Plank transports the reader into the 1970s-1980s as she navigates emigrating from Israel to the U.S. As a young child, Plank went from a supportive, communal, cohesive and socially nurturing environment on the kibbutz, to a new and unfamiliar country shrouded in a wet, isolated, and cold reality: Seattle, WA. After some time, Plank’s father decides to end the marriage to her mother, separates from the family, and relocates to the East Coast, leaving Plank, her younger sister, and mother on their own. Plank’s mother, now vulnerable and alone with two young children, was pulled toward the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh community active in her neighborhood (Capitol Hill). Eventually, Plank would lose her mother to the cult. Without her mother, Plank and her sister would reunite with her father on the East Coast, where she would spend many years during her youth, being confronted with all the pain and awkwardness that adolescence brings and continuing on a path of self-discovery and maturity in her mother’s absence. As the reader is exposed to Plank’s journey, her experience is underscored by resilience, introspection, and personal growth. The work ends with a poignant discussion that leads the reader full circle and, above all, gives us hope. Plank’s captivating work is one that is difficult to put down and is highly recommended.

  24. 5 out of 5

    stephanie vuckovic

    The author’s debut memoir is a moving, beautifully written account of a daughter who longs for the mother who abandoned her and her sister to live in a cult. Ms. Plank describes in heartbreaking detail how she felt that she “wasn’t enough” to capture her mother’s attention and how she constantly yearned for her mother’s presence and searched for a sense of belonging. “What did I have to do to make her want to be with me as much as I wanted to be with her?” she wonders. Readers of all generations The author’s debut memoir is a moving, beautifully written account of a daughter who longs for the mother who abandoned her and her sister to live in a cult. Ms. Plank describes in heartbreaking detail how she felt that she “wasn’t enough” to capture her mother’s attention and how she constantly yearned for her mother’s presence and searched for a sense of belonging. “What did I have to do to make her want to be with me as much as I wanted to be with her?” she wonders. Readers of all generations who had mothers who were out of reach for various reasons can relate to that feeling of loss, abandonment and being “less than.” Even though Ms. Plank’s father lovingly provided for them as best he could, there were natural conflicts as she approached adolescence, which she articulates with a candor that so poignantly reflects her discomfort at the time. The sprinkling of cultural references from those who grew up in the 70s and 80s make this especially relatable to Generation Xers. The fact that she is able to forgive her mother and invite her back into her life shows how large this daughter’s heart grew, even in the face of this rejection. I would love to read an account of how Ms. Plank arrived at this forgiveness. In sum, this is a candid, moving account of a daughter who was rejected by her mother and managed to go on, forgive and form a loving family of her own. Absolutely lovely!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cassie’s Reviews

    This book is an extremely powerful memoir that sticks with you long after the last page. Your transported back to the 1970-1980, when the author Ronit Plank emigrates from Israel to the U.S as a young child. This was a huge change Israel held a nurturing environment the only place she knew, moving to cold Seattle Washington was a change she wasn’t ready for. When her father abruptly decides to divorce her mother and then moves to the east coast she’s shocked, he doesn’t just leave her mother he This book is an extremely powerful memoir that sticks with you long after the last page. Your transported back to the 1970-1980, when the author Ronit Plank emigrates from Israel to the U.S as a young child. This was a huge change Israel held a nurturing environment the only place she knew, moving to cold Seattle Washington was a change she wasn’t ready for. When her father abruptly decides to divorce her mother and then moves to the east coast she’s shocked, he doesn’t just leave her mother he leaves behind Ronit and her younger sister. Ronits mother looks for acceptance she’s alone with two kids and feeling vulnerable and she soon finds it in Bhagwan Shree Rajineesh a community {cult} thats active in her neighborhood. Soon Ronit sees she’s losing her mother to this cult her mother follows this cult she joined across the world.Ronit and her sister find themselves moving back with their father and growing up without their mother. Ronit soon sees herself growing up without the affection and love from mother. The author did an amazing job discussing the difficulties of living through monumental moments that she had to go through without her mother, and finding her own inner strength from inside and accepting herself. I truly loved this book, especially seeing things through her eyes as a child and how open she was when discussing such personal moments. Five stars.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    When I first picked up this book, I wondered how a mother could leave her children and follow a stranger across the world. But, very early into the story, I got a sense of the situation and the longing her mother felt for more. As a mother myself, I can understand her journey to heal and find herself. Those early days, when kids are young and demanding can be so difficult. But, I can also very much relate to Ronit's struggles as she grew up desperate for the attention and affection of her mother When I first picked up this book, I wondered how a mother could leave her children and follow a stranger across the world. But, very early into the story, I got a sense of the situation and the longing her mother felt for more. As a mother myself, I can understand her journey to heal and find herself. Those early days, when kids are young and demanding can be so difficult. But, I can also very much relate to Ronit's struggles as she grew up desperate for the attention and affection of her mother as I grew up longing for my father. Ronit does a beautiful job of taking us through her very vivid accounting of the monumental moments that shaped her view of the world. And how she's learned to overcome her initial thoughts about herself and her body to grow into a successful and happy adult. At times, I laughed at the way kids see the world and reflected back on my own childhood. And how some moments felt so big when, to the adults, they were so small. Thank you Ronit for chronicling the journey of your childhood and sharing it with us.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Allison Merrill

    In WHEN SHE COMES BACK, Ronit Plank tells the poignant story of her childhood yearning for her mother, who leaves the six-year-old Plank and her four-year-old sister and moves to India for ten months to live in Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s ashram. Plank’s voice is sincere and engaging. The details she shares about her childhood are so vivid and urgent that it’s sometimes unbearable to see the young Plank’s heart break over and over after her hope to reunite with her mother is shattered again and aga In WHEN SHE COMES BACK, Ronit Plank tells the poignant story of her childhood yearning for her mother, who leaves the six-year-old Plank and her four-year-old sister and moves to India for ten months to live in Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s ashram. Plank’s voice is sincere and engaging. The details she shares about her childhood are so vivid and urgent that it’s sometimes unbearable to see the young Plank’s heart break over and over after her hope to reunite with her mother is shattered again and again. As a mom myself, I find it difficult to forgive Plank’s mother for neglecting her parental responsibility, leaving her precious girls to grow up in an emotionally shaky state. But the challenges Plank faces as a child make it extra meaningful for the reader to see how she grows up to be a loving mother to her own kids. Not only that, Plank is forgiving, understanding, and willing to meet with her mother where she is, emotionally, and bring her back into the circle of a family life. This memoir is a triumph. I highly recommend it!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Rozier

    When Ronit decides to watch the six part docuseries Wild Wild Country about Bhagwan Rajneesh and his cult, it prompts her to write this memoir. Ronit’s mother left Ronit and her younger sister, Nava, not once but twice for this cult while the girls were growing up. In this memoir Ronit focuses not on the variety of spiritual pursuits that kept Ronit’s mom away from her girls most of their lives, but the emotional impact not having a mother around affected Ronit. Ronit is very open about her feelin When Ronit decides to watch the six part docuseries Wild Wild Country about Bhagwan Rajneesh and his cult, it prompts her to write this memoir. Ronit’s mother left Ronit and her younger sister, Nava, not once but twice for this cult while the girls were growing up. In this memoir Ronit focuses not on the variety of spiritual pursuits that kept Ronit’s mom away from her girls most of their lives, but the emotional impact not having a mother around affected Ronit. Ronit is very open about her feelings that even though she was raised by her dad, there was a hole missing from her life. I’ve read several memoirs like The Sound of Gravel and Little Sister written by children of families involved in a non mainstream sect, but this is a first where the child isn’t raised in the environment but was impacted by it. This was a quick and interesting read. I admire Ronit for rekindling her relationship with her mom as an adult. Even with therapy, I’m not sure I would be quite as generous as she is.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julie Samrick

    I expected Ronit Plank’s coming of age memoir When She Comes Back to be about her mother leaving two young daughters to follow the infamous cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, but Plank’s story is so much more. Yes, through vivid detail Plank recalls what it was like to be a child wanting nothing more than her mother’s love, and the heartbreak she felt to be physically and emotionally distant during such a pivotal time in any child’s life, but I especially loved Plank’s vivid recollection of gro I expected Ronit Plank’s coming of age memoir When She Comes Back to be about her mother leaving two young daughters to follow the infamous cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, but Plank’s story is so much more. Yes, through vivid detail Plank recalls what it was like to be a child wanting nothing more than her mother’s love, and the heartbreak she felt to be physically and emotionally distant during such a pivotal time in any child’s life, but I especially loved Plank’s vivid recollection of growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, which abounds with nostalgia for Gen X readers. I also just loved young Ronit- through her many ups and downs she comes across as smart, funny, honest, and humble. She reminds me of some of the other lively characters I loved reading about as a girl: Ramona Quimby, Pippi Longstocking, and Anne of Green Gables, to name a few. Though Plank’s story took place decades ago, I was reminded that some themes are timeless- children are resilient, but at their core they mostly want the stability of an intact family.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alyson

    I loved this book. I grew up in a tumultuous 70's household and have always been fascinated with kids who had childhoods similar to mine. I loved Wild, Wild Country and My Life in Orange and this book is a great companion to both of them. I have a lot of overlaps with the author. Her mom did EST, mine did Lifespring. The music. The lack of boundaries. The lack of a genuine childhood. The art, the cards of Susan Seddon Boulet, oh my goodness, I hadn't thought of those in years and yet, I knew EXA I loved this book. I grew up in a tumultuous 70's household and have always been fascinated with kids who had childhoods similar to mine. I loved Wild, Wild Country and My Life in Orange and this book is a great companion to both of them. I have a lot of overlaps with the author. Her mom did EST, mine did Lifespring. The music. The lack of boundaries. The lack of a genuine childhood. The art, the cards of Susan Seddon Boulet, oh my goodness, I hadn't thought of those in years and yet, I knew EXACTLY what she was talking about. Obviously, there was an enormous difference between my life and Ronit's, my mom didn't move up to Oregon with other friends she met to follow Rajneesh, my mom came home. I was deeply moved by Ronit's honesty and vulnerability. Her incredible journey. The epilogue of the book made me cry. Ronit bared her soul and we are all better for it.

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