Thursday, November 17, 2022

Blog Tour: Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster

Title: Chasing Tarzan
Author: Catherine Forster
Publisher: WiDo Publishing
Publication Date: July 12th 2022
Print Length: 316 pages
Genre: Memoir
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In the 1960s, a relentless school bully makes Catherine’s life a living hell. She retreats inward, relying on a rich fantasy life––swinging through the jungle wrapped in Tarzan’s protective arms––and fervent prayers to a God she does not trust. She fasts until she feels faint, she ties a rough rope around her waist as penance, hoping God will see her worthy of His help.

As the second of eight children, Catherine is Mommy’s little helper, and like Mommy, Catherine is overwhelmed. The bullying and the adult responsibilities together foment her anger. She starts smacking her siblings, and becomes her younger sister’s nemesis. Spooked by who she is becoming, Catherine vows to escape for real, before she hurts someone—or herself.

Catherine finds salvation in a high school exchange program: new town, new school, new family, new persona. A passport celebrity. In New Zealand, nobody knows her history or her fears. Except for her Kiwi “mum,” who sees through Catherine’s fa├žade and pulls her out from her inner safe-house. Exposed, her sense of self implodes. Catherine must finally rethink who she is.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Catherine Forster honed her powers of observation early on, and later applied them to artistic endeavors. Although it didn’t happen overnight, she discovered that seeing and hearing a bit more than the average person can be beneficial. As an artist, her work has exhibited in museums and galleries across the United States and abroad. Her experimental films have won accolades and awards in more than thirty international film festivals, from Sao Paulo to Berlin, Los Angeles to Rome, London to Romania. Through her work, she explores the dynamics of girlhood, notions of identity, and the role technology plays in our relationship with nature.

In her capacity as an independent curator, she founded LiveBox, an eight-year project that introduced new media arts to communities at a time when few new what media arts was. For the past four years she has been a member of the curatorial team for the Experiments In Cinema Film Festival held annually in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received a Masters of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Masters of Business from the London Business School, and a fellowship in writing from the Vermont Studio Center. She is also included in the Brooklyn Art Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

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GUEST POST:
The Role of Adults - Potential Saviors For a Wounded Child
by Catherine Forster

My daughter was three years old and in pre-school when I got that first call from a teacher; it would be the first of many that I received during her formative school years. She was different. An extremely bright child, she was more attuned to adults that other children. She stood out and became the target of bullies.

I drove home after the meeting and had to pull over to the side of the road because I was crying so hard I couldn’t see clearly. This was not supposed to happen. My own parents had failed to come to my aid, never venturing to intervene. It was a different time, children were left to their own defenses. When my daughter was born, I vowed that would never happen to her––I would prevent it. She would not suffer as I had. In this age of anti-bullying movements, how was it even possible that she was a target?

In the days and years ahead, I stood up for her, demanded changes in the classroom and on the playground. I counseled her, made sure she understood she did not deserve their cruel words or actions. I did what I could, but I could not stop the bullying. Kids are enterprising: bullies will find a way, when the teacher is not looking, or home late at night when no one sees their internet misdeeds.

As I wrote Chasing Tarzan, I discovered that despite being left to my own defenses, I was not entirely alone. A champion can ebb the long-term effects of bullying. Someone who believes in you, stands up for you, validates you’re worthy of love––deserving of nothing less––can make all the difference. Studies also show that the impact of bullying does not cease when the bullying stops––the effects are long-term. Individuals who were the target of severe bullying (whether physical or verbal) were more likely to struggle with their relationships, suffer from depression, addiction, and suicide during adulthood. This was true before our school walls were covered with anti-bullying posters, and is still true today.

I wish I had a magic wand to put right this pervasive menace. I don’t have the answer. I suspect that despite the prevalence of bullying, some people subconsciously believe bully is a normal part of growing up––a belief that perpetuates the problem. For now, the one act that can make a difference is advocacy. Be a champion. I am and will always be my child’s champion. I hope there will be many other advocates for her and if you are a parent, for your child too.

Several teachers have requested this book for their school, and their school counselors. It is with great gratitude that I offer my thanks to those teachers who are nine months out of the year the greatest advocates for our children. On a bad day, a kind word can make all the difference in a child's life.
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