Call Me Sasha, subtitled 'Secret confessions of an Australian call girl', is a memoir of Geena Leigh's extraordinary journey of homelessness, drug addiction, and prostitution and her eventual triumph in reclaiming her life.
A difficult childhood, marred by a volatile and abusive father and a disinterested mother, resulted in Geena leaving home at fifteen. Despite an admirable initial attempt to keep up with her education and support herself with with a full time job, easy access to alcohol and marijuana inevitably interfered with her goals. Broke, in a bad relationship and desperate for something to change, prostitution seemed somehow to be a solution. Despite a general distaste for sex, and little experience, Geena quickly became enmeshed in the life, appreciating the financial rewards and a feeling of belonging amongst her colleagues, ignoring the slow erosion of her fragile sense of self worth. It took decades for Geena to finally extract herself from the life, detoured by addictions to alcohol, heroin and cocaine, an arrest in Greece, rape and abortion. After hitting rock bottom at age 32 she began the arduous process of putting her life back together, earning double degrees, detoxifying, and at age 37, finally turned her back on prostitution.
I always find memoirs challenging to review as obviously the 'story' is deeply personal. I feel Geena relates her journey honestly and without sensationalism. Necessarily there are some explicit descriptions of Geena's sexual experiences, and blunt recounts of drug taking and violence, but these scenes are simply illustrations of truth, rather than attempts to shock. I appreciate that Geena takes responsibility for the direction her life took, though it would have been easy to blame everything on her parents and others, and I admired the way in which she eventually made the decisions necessary to change her life.
I did sometimes feel their was a sense of distance between the memory of events and the narrative, which is not altogether surprising, but occasionally results in a lack of emotional context except in moments of real crisis.
Written with candour, simplicity and courage, Call Me Sasha is an interesting, and ultimately inspiring memoir. I hope she finds lasting strength, love, happiness and peace.