What Happened to You?

What Happened to You?

Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

By Bruce Perry, MD, Ph.D., and Oprah Winfrey

Flatiron Books, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-250-22318-0, 302 pages, $28.99

It’s a simple phrase, “What Happened to You?” In a Q&A format, Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry flip the script on the often-asked question of “What’s wrong with them?” With years of work as a neuroscientist and clinical psychologist, Dr. Perry has experience working with traumatized individuals and helping them heal. His neurosequential model helps readers understand how the brain works and navigates trauma. Oprah brings to the conversation her personal experiences with trauma and years of interview others who’ve had traumatic experiences. The back-and-forth conversational format of this book makes it easy to follow and breaks down some of the most complex concepts of trauma’s impacts on the brain.

The book is written in an easy-to-understand format that gives readers examples and explanations that they can follow. The two break down everything from early brain development to how certain circumstances can change the brain. While the book starts on a micro level, by the end it’s exploring macro elements of trauma on society and diving into how different cultures navigate trauma differently.

“What Happened to You” would be beneficial for every foster, adoptive and kinship parent to read to not only understand the experiences of the children in their home, but also their own experiences. There were also some really great takeaways in how to implement some of the suggestions in the book to meet the needs of children and families differently. This book is definitely worth a read and I would highly recommend participating in a study group with other families parenting children who’ve experienced early traumas.

— Reviewed by Kim Phagan-Hansel

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