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Not Lost Forever
Not Lost Forever by Carmina Salcido with Steve Jackson
by Carmina Salcido with Steve Jackson

On April 14, 1989, Mexican immigrant Ramon Salcido murdered most of his family --- his wife, her two sisters, his mother-in-law and the man he suspected of having an affair with his wife.  He brutally slashed the throats of his three young daughters, disposing of them at the county dump.  Three year old Carmina survived.  Some of her memories from that horrific time survive.  Filling in the gaps with the help of others living in Sonoma at the time, Carmina Salcido reaches back into the past to try to sort through and assemble the true story from the bits and pieces from the reliable recollections, some exaggerated memories, others perhaps not true.  In NOT LOST FOREVER, Carmina Salcido with the help of writer Steve Jackson tells the story of her father's crime and her struggle for survival, not only her physical self but her emotional and spiritual life.

NOT LOST FOREVER is moving story of one girl's resilience to fight back against those who would silence her voice and against the darkness that threatens to subsume her in the aftermath of the crime.  Those responsible for her care often let her down, from the distraught grandfather who himself was a victim after having lost almost his whole family to the family who adopted her.  The account of the Swindell family's abuse of her emotional needs stuns one at least as much as the story of her father's crime.  Under the cloak of religion, their child-rearing exacerbates the isolation and loss of family often compounding the psychological difficulty of her experiences rather than nurturing her needs.  In Carmina's life, the ultra-conservative Catholic TFP (Tradition, Family, Property) movement plays a significant role and not for the better as practiced by those who were in charge of her welfare.  Her account is not a tirade against religion but rather one that reveals the hypocrisy of some of its practioners.  Some of the moments leave a reader wanting to scream at those to whom she was entrusted after the crime.  Carmina Salcido's story of her life in a convent is one of the most poignant moments of the story, not only for the understanding she begins to receive from religious figures but her growing awareness of her own specific spiritual needs.   Her life after the convent is no piece of cake.  Often the help she receives is exactly what she does not need.  Nevertheless, 
NOT LOST FOREVER is a story of survival.  Despite all the horrors of her life, those of the crime and those that resulted indirectly from the crime's aftermath, Carmina Salcido's story leaves a reader with a portrait of a young woman with a resilience and strong force within herself to reach beyond the limitations imposed on her.

As a true crime memoir,
NOT LOST FOREVER is welcome change from the typical true crime scenario simply for being able to hear the victim's own words.  NOT LOST FOREVER does not explain Ramon Salcido's crimes other than to give a a view of what law enforcement saw and the father's unsettling view of himself as the victim.  The descriptions of Ramon Salcido's conversations are rather a stage in Camina Salcido's growth as she separates her fantasy of his remorse from the man he is. 

NOT LOST FOREVER is Carmina Salcido's way of finally speaking out.  As a young woman, the story tells the first part of her road.  Of necessity, this is not a complete story.  For readers living outside the Sonoma area who remember the news blurbs of the crime, NOT LOST FOREVER fills a reader in on the story not reported by the news.  So often, once the media buzz moves on to another story, and the story disappears from the public but here a reader catches a glimpse of the story after the media has left.  Sometimes,
NOT LOST FOREVER is a bit odd in the beginning as one wonders whose voice is speaking ---  Carmina Salcido's or Steve Jackson's.  The writing itself is not literary and is often matter-of-fact with a simple directness.  The power of the narrative comes from the unpolished sense of honesty, especially in the later part of the story.  Her outrage and speaking out about the events in her life is balanced by a certain graciousness and grounded developing spirituality and self-knowledge.

Publisher: Harper True Crime (June 28, 2011)
Hardcover (Oct. 2009)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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