Books Overview

Beautiful Buttons: A Memoir of Survival and Triumph

Cathrine Ann was raised by alcoholic parents in poverty where she was unwanted, neglected and abused. The first time she was sexually abused, she was five, and it happened by a friend of her fathers right in front of him, but he was too drunk to notice. From the time she was born until she became pregnant at 15, her parents moved seventeen times. They always had money for booze and cigarettes, but never for rent or bills or food. She attended numerous schools, where the kids teased her and beat her up because of her big nose, tall, lanky body and the second hand clothes that she wore. When Cathrine became pregnant for a second time at the age of seventeen, it was her aunt, that had absolutely no medical training at all, that performed the abortion at her apartment. Beautiful Buttons – the name derives from Cathrine's practice as a child of snipping buttons from dresses she could never afford and taking them home to cherish. She promised herself that one day, she would have the dresses that went along with the buttons. But for now, she only had the buttons.

Cathrine's undiagnosed ADD and learning disability, didn't help her to understand why she couldn't learn in school or make friends. She dropped out of school after grade eight to raise her son, but did a crappy job at being a mother. Trying to avoid the nightly arguing and fighting between her parents, she took her baby anywhere she could to get away from the madness at home. She slept in parks, school yards, rode the subway all night or stayed with strangers. She pulled runners at restaurants to eat and did whatever she had to do to survive.

When she went to her rich uncle to ask for a job and to help her buy food for herself and her baby, he pimped her out. He told her that someone like her, that was damaged goods, with drunks for parents and no one who cared about her, was destined to become a nothing in life, so she better get used to it and accept her fate. At eighteen she did a stint in jail for theft and then two years on probation. Cathrine tried to do better, and sometimes did. But her life was filled with more downs than ups.

At the age of thirty-five, she tried to even the odds for not having received an education earlier in life, so she forged university transcripts to get into medical school. After she was found out, she did what she always did when things got too tough; she ran. This time, right into the hands of the mob, where she started escort agencies for them and became a prostitute. Her uncles words about being damaged goods never left her and she would always find her way back to despair and often homelessness.

When she got shot at by pimps trying to recruit girls on the track for the mob, she once again ran. But she kept her career as a prostitute. She then met Marc, her present husband, and the first person who truly loved and cared about her. When her pager kept going off during their dates, she told Marc she was a doctor, to explain why she had to suddenly leave. Cathrine soon told Marc that they should start their own business and make millions of dollars and live happily ever after together. Cathrine had a plan. They should rob a bank. Marc believed in her, so he quit his job as a cook earning minimum wage. Then, they were both homeless; with their three dogs, living out of Marc's truck, while Cathrine tried to get a plan together. But first, they had to pick up Cathrine's last unemployment cheque.

Then, something nothing less than miraculous happened. Something that would change both Cathrine's and Marc's lives forever. With Marc by her side, she would go on to win numerous entrepreneurial awards, including the prestigious YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Entrepreneur/Innovator and become a business leader. Her promise of making millions of dollars with Marc would become a reality. She would go on to become a highly acclaimed inspirational speaker and author. Governor Linda Lingle (Hawaii) said that after Cathrine spoke to an audience of 1,200, at her Women's Leadership event, she "changed lives of people in the room".

Cathrine's mantra is: Dream it. Believe it. Be it. There will be nothing else like Beautiful Buttons… because there is no one else remotely like Cathrine Ann.