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I read a great deal and once or twice year something comes along that just stops me in my tracks.

This book is one of them. You can read it in an hour or two, but the images that it evokes and the truths that it tells will likely stay with you for years.

The book begins with a true story of an appalling act of brutality but finishes with extraordinary tales of personal transformation and the fruits of that transformation that are spreading through some of the most disadvantaged people in America.

As the book begins, Susan is an ambitious and high-flying corporate trainer who has just re-located to the West Coast and has plans to become the youngest vice president in the company. She is also an accomplished and competitive aerobic dancer. It is after an evening class when her world is turned upside down. Two shotgun-wielding assailants come to rob and rape.

After the attack Susan goes through the familiar phases of the cycle of grief: terrible, incapacitating, shock and fear, followed by anger and depression. What is so different about her story is that she eventually reaches a stage where she has to make a choice: remain angry and resentful, or move beyond it. She feels - really feels - an extraordinary compassion for her assailants and for the other people that she meets in her journey. Not only does she feel compassion and forgiveness, she lives it, creating the Joy Dancers, who go into a women's prison to teach the abused, substance using inmates to move beyond their own feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing.

Many people have had the strength to forgive others, but not often does someone live it so profoundly. I have met the author, and even without knowing her story, anyone can see in her the eyes of a Buddha of compassion.

Susan's story also reflects some currents in contemporary society. She describes herself before the attack as someone who was self-centered and narcissistic: ambitious and driven, she was, like so many people forever striving for the perfect career, life and body. Even her spirituality appears to have been focused on a God who would give her things rather than a God to be listened to and served. Now she understands and demonstrates that a meaningful spirituality has to be grounded in the day-to-day world.

All that changed in a single night, although it took years after those terrible events for her to find her path, but once she did, her compassion and her service healed not only the prisoners but also herself.

There are many books by victims of horrendous crimes and many others about posttraumatic stress disorder and compassion. But I have never seen a book quite like this. It should be required reading not only by victims of trauma and their families, but also by all healthcare professionals.

The book is exceptionally well written and is genuinely inspirational.

Very highly recommended.

Richard G. Petty, MD, author of Healing, Meaning and Purpose: The Magical Power of the Emerging Laws of Life

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Gripping, powerful, and inspiring "The Dancer Returns: From Victim to Victory" by Susan Lee-Titus is a story of survival and moving on that you'll never forget.

Titus brings the reader along on her journey through Post Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), sharing the full gamut of emotions she went through as a result of the terrfying night when she was raped at a dance studio by two men while her helpless friends watched. The reader is then able to follow Titus' road to recovery as she realizes the key lies in her ability to forgive the men who turned her life into a living nightmare and moves on to create The Joy Dancers, an outreach program for teaching incarcerated women how to release their anger through aerobic dance.

This is an amazingly powerful book. At points in my reading I was moved to tears; but this truly isn't a sad story because Titus not only survived, she worked through painful emotions and nightmares to come out on top again. With a renewed sense of faith and forgiveness, Titus stopped being a victim and became a woman who reached out to other women in desperate situations.

Exquisitely written, moving beyond words, and full of hope for the future, "The Dancer Returns" reminds us all of the success story inside us. If you read only one book this year, make that book "The Dancer Returns" by Susan Lee-Titus!

Cheryl C. Malandrinos

more reviews from Cheryl:

Book Connection
The Book Rack

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The Dancer Returns" is a true-life story about an incredibly courageous woman's experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is an emotional and psychological reaction to trauma. It is one of the anxiety disorders which causes panic attacks. The symptoms of PTSD include fear, flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, loss of appetite, memory lapses, social withdrawal, and depression. This story about recovery from PTSD recounts Susan's struggle through the dark night of the soul, and her amazing journey to new beginnings, which took her from victim to victory. This book is a testament to the human spirit, and the healing power of forgiveness. It is such an inspiration -- it will move you to tears and give you great hope. It is a "must read" for all trauma survivors.

Jane Spell

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Susanís story is unforgettable, and from the first page, youíll be captivated.

It is both honest and hopeful. Without the honesty, the hope would be unrealistic, and without the hope, the honesty would be devastating. Together, they provide a window into how God is with us at the worst moments of our lives, leading us from despair and victimhood to heroism and virtue. This beautiful book is for all of us, but especially for those who have suffered great trauma.

óBrian McLaren
author/activist (brianmclaren.net)


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In this brave and riveting book, Susan Lee-Titus takes us on a journey with a savage beginning but an amazing end. As the words unfold, the details of her devastating ordeal are shocking. Susanís account of her brutal attack and her painful recovery is heartbreaking. But out of Susanís brokenness emerges a triumphant woman whose life is focused on compassion toward other suffering people. This uplifting story will forever challenge what it means ďto give back.Ē I invite you to open your hearts and minds and experience the journey of The Dancer Returns: From Victim to Victory.

Sterling Spell
Singer/Songwriter
with Northbound Band
www.Northbound-Rocks.com