Candid Confessions is an often interesting, fast-moving and extremely raw memoir, written in the language of the streets. Although this book is riddled with grammatical errors, sometimes repeats descriptions of the same events, and could be better edited, I enjoyed it immensely for what it was, a memoir of the violence-filled and drug-addled life of a gender variant individual and her struggles to overcome her inner demons. Although Mona M Rios Monroe has a serious criminal past and can perhaps be considered sociopathic, her upbringing was so dysfunctional that it engenders a certain amount of sympathy, as she is a person whose code of conduct was initially modelled on the stormy, addictive, abusive and often criminal activities of her parents.
As years passed by and with the onset of more advanced life skills honed from working the seamy streets of downtown Los Angeles as a sex worker and polysubstance, drug-seeking addict, she used others while others in turn used her, as she journeyed down to the bottom rungs of our social structure. It would be a grave understatement to say that the writer didn't always make the best decisions. In fact, she made such poor choices and hurt so many innocent and not-so-innocent victims she served extensive time locked away in California county jails and state prisons for her criminal activity. Some of her crimes concerned substance abuse violations while others were of a more violent and horrible nature of the type that make headlines in the tabloids and cause the reader to gasp in disbelief. We know that someone is doing these things and here she is!
In the author's journey, she has long struggled to come to terms with her poor upbringing, co-dependent nature, habitual drug taking, alcoholism and criminal recidivism. She acknowledges that she married the wrong person for all the wrong reasons. However, she does not seem to cop to the fact that she brought an innocent child into the world and subjected her to the same raging life issues she, herself encountered as a child. In search of escape, love and a solution to her incessant and recurrent problems, the author got involved in a religious cult and eventually immersed herself in the porn industry, all to no avail in search of deliverance from her background and the drug and gender demons with which she struggled.
At the conclusion, although the author appears to have finally become involved in a successful relationship and ostensibly is clean and sober, one wonders when the demons will again strike. But where this book really falls short is that the author, though acknowledging some of her mistakes of the past, does not seem deeply repentant for them. I don't experience that she takes full responsibility for the horror she caused others. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that although she talks much about her daughter, she completely leaves out any acknowledgement that the pain and suffering she caused this little girl was clearly horrible child abuse, just as it was in her own upbringing.
By and large the author continuously presents herself as a victim of circumstances who has finally gotten her life into balance, albeit possibly quite precarious and illusory, given that she does not appear to have ever sought or gotten the professional help she needs. Given that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour we see a new life built on a very flimsy foundation indeed. That said, I wish the author all the best for future success and thought this memoir to be a very entertaining read.
[Reviewed by Samuel]