“Return Me to Myself” by Klio Tsitsikroni
Synopsis: Klio Tsitsikroni shares her heart-wrenching story of growing up in a dysfunctional family, before turning to drink and drugs to escape the abuse and trauma of her unhappy childhood. Growing up in the 1970s as a young, Greek gay girl meant that Klio struggled to be accepted. Turning to self-harm – a topic not heard of in those days – only isolated her further from the ideals of society. During time in rehab, Klio slowly learned to love herself and to once again believe in her dreams. It is there that she met a group of prostitutes, all damaged in their own way, who came to show her love, shelter and friendship. Armed with a determination to find her first love – Cheryl – Klio fought her addiction in order to turn her life around. Inspired by authors such as Toni Morrison, Charles Bukowski and Constance Briscoe, Klio’s inspirational autobiography demonstrates that, in the face of adversity, anyone can achieve their dreams. A moving read, Return Me to Myself will appeal to anyone in the LGBT community, and to fans of autobiographies.
2 out of 5 stars
Return Me to Myself is the autobiography of Klio Tsitsikroni. I believe this is her first book as I haven’t been able to find any others.
The story: The story itself is intriguing. Klio grew up in the same era that I did, and her early days were spent playing outside with her brothers and avoiding the abuse she encountered at home. She was a victim of abuse at the hands of almost every adult she encounters, and turned to drugs and self-harm to escape. After taking a handful of pills, she was hospitalized and it’s there she meets Cheryl. Cheryl was her first love and the first person who seemed to love her for herself.
The character: Klio is a bit of an enigma even after reading her story. She confused me. As she was growing up, it’s clear that she blamed her mother for most of the issues in her family, even after her father was caught having an affair and impregnated their maid. Her father was on a bit of a pedestal and she forgave him for the sexually inappropriate ways he behaved towards her. Klio also wrote a great deal about her physical strength and it’s apparent she was proud of that, detailing the ways she made her father proud by carrying more weight than her brothers.
What I liked: Klio is a real person with real issues, and it’s easy to understand how her childhood and adolescence shaped her later years. The love she felt for Cheryl was real and her fear at getting caught with her in rehab was believable. Her pain after losing her and turning to self-harm is sadly true, as is her time spent in a an institution. Klio bounced from one institution to another, constantly abusing drugs, gambling, and never seeming to find the help she desperately needed. She struggled with being gay and what that meant to her and her lovers.
What I didn’t like: The book is written as a sort of stream-of-consciousness that I had difficulty reading. The writing jumped around a bit and I had a hard time following some parts of the story.
Some of the writing is just poetic:
“Sleep will not come, sleep will not erase this feeling that I have for you. Darkness has descended on my soul. You are here again in my mind, return me to myself.”
However, I feel that the book would benefit from editing. There was a great deal of repetition, and because of the style of writing it was easy to get confused and lost in the time line of Klio’s life. The inner monologue was a bit tedious and often filled with details that didn’t add to the story.
When Klio wrote about one of the prostitutes she befriended,this is attached:
“Her sister Catherine met a good looking sailor, who whisked her off on his ship and took her to Greece. Many girls would leave on the ship with their passports and go with their men, all looking for love.”
In my opinion, this added nothing to the story as Catherine or the sailors were ever mentioned again.
I think it’s important that authors who consider themselves on the LGBTQIA+ scale continue to write, that they continue to give voice to their stories. Because of that, I feel this is worth a read.
*ARC from publisher through NetGalley for honest review.