About Maxene

Maxene is a native New Yorker who has lived and traveled across Europe and Canada before settling down in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Over her forty-year career, she has been an English teacher, a Human Resource Manager and a consultant helping Fortune 500 organizations handle the impact of downsizing on its employees and improving their leadership and sales performance.

Throughout her career, she has brought her strong communication skills and creativity to her role, exciting students old and young to crave learning and enjoy their experiences with her as a dynamic facilitator.  Whether in print or in person, she has received excellent feedback. See what others are saying about her.

In 2015, Maxene decided to gather together her journals and notes and begin the process of telling the tale of her journey as an unwed mother in the ’60’s during a time when discussion about this was strictly taboo. In September 2015, she won the first Atlanta Journal-Constitution short story contest for their Personal Journeys column. The editor of the section noted, “There were several strong front runners, but our judges, Deputy Managing Editor Tracy Brown and Senior Editor Ken Foskett, were in agreement that Raices’ unusual story about the legacy of secrecy was the standout.” Check out the winning story, The Secret Wedding Party.

In March 2018, she completed her memoir, The Land of Sunshine and Hell, A Memoir of a ‘60’s Unwed Mother.

Maxene is now exploring the craft of short story as her full-time focus. She lives with her husband Lee and is surrounded by her blended family of her son and Lee’s two children, as well as her long-lost daughter who lives in New York with her family.

Book Synopsis

The Land of Sunshine and Hell: A Memoir of a ‘60’s Unwed Mother

It is 1964 and the Vietnam War is heating up, drafting young men into battle. This is an era in which sex is not discussed at home or at school and children are left in the dark to fend for themselves.  It is an era of high morality, anti-war protests,  and music that reflected the coming rebellion.

Maxene is seventeen and in love with Romolo, a first-generation Italian American.  She discovers she is pregnant; her world comes crashing down around her.  She is a good student and has been accepted into college. She is excited about a bright future, fantasizing about marriage and a career as a teacher.

Instead, Maxene will live alone in a town where she knows no one, waiting until the baby is born. Romolo, who is in college, visits clandestinely on occasion.

She gives birth to her daughter. Four days later the lawyer takes the baby from her on the steps of the hospital.  Maxene returns home, empty and numb.  Without counseling or discussion about the impact of her loss, her parents never broaching the subject, she bides her time before beginning college.  When people ask why she is home from school, they are told she has mononucleosis.

Months later, before adoption papers are finalized, her mother visits with Mr. B to receive a final payment and sees a photo on his credenza of a toddler who looks just like Maxene.  There is a growing suspicion that Mr. B is making the adoption arrangements for someone in his own family.

The expectation at the time was “good girls” went to college and didn’t get pregnant.  Maxene discovers that both of her roommates have also given up babies prior to starting their school year. How could they wind up together?  These young women are simply expected to show a brave face and move on.  She is the only one able to hang on and graduate, and soon after she lands a job teaching ninth-grade English.

Maxene eventually marries Romolo after he is drafted and joins him in Germany. The memoir describes their experience as part of a group of draftees who quietly rebel against giving up two years of their lives. They spend their evenings smoking marijuana, listening to the music of the times,  and pulling pranks on the officers. Meanwhile, their relationship — a mixture of love, guilt, and immaturity — is falling apart.

The memoir follows her path across three continents, applying herself professionally while longing to know her daughter. It recounts the hell Maxene experiences, being lured into a relationship with Simon, a controlling, abusive, brilliant artist.  She tells herself she just needs to work harder to make things right.  As she turns thirty, she is convinced by Simon to become pregnant, which strikes an emotional chord.  After her son is born, she gathers strength to escape Simon’s control.

A blind date leads to meeting her soulmate, Lee.  The final chapters of the memoir recount how despite all the heartache, through persistence and an optimistic outlook, a truly positive outcome is possible, letting the sun shine in on her life.

This book is now available in soft cover, hard cover and e-versions.  Purchase your copy now!


email:      maxene.d.raices@gmail.com
mobile:      (678) 296-0012
LinkedIn:  linkedin.com/in/mraices/

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