Love Is Complicated: A True Story of Brokenness and Healing is a heartwarming and often shocking tale of a religious father and his sinful daughter that will transform your perception of what it means to simultaneously rebel against and yearn for a father’s love. Marlena is four months old when her parents are called as medical missionaries to establish a leprosy compound in a Mennonite community in South America. Throughout her early life, she grapples with contradictory desires to please her autocratic, hero-doctor father, and revolt against his often-abusive control.
After being publicly humiliated in front of the entire close-knit Mennonite community for her sexual misconduct, Marlena escapes to the U.S., where she stumbles from one disaster to another. She always gets back on her feet, thinking she is in control once more, only to hit bottom again. In the midst of that all-too-familiar place at rock bottom, she finally understands the futility of one more attempt to explain away or justify what is happening to her. At the same time, she gradually becomes aware that her father, the willful and powerful doctor who seemed invincible, is also experiencing blows to his ego. At the intersection of their brokenness, healing becomes possible.
Love is Complicated follows Marlena’s journey from an abusive upbringing in her Mennonite community in Paraguay, to escape, love and loss in the United States, and finally on to forgiveness and reconciliation. It reveals unexpected openings to find healing in the most broken parts of ourselves.
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Praise for Love is Complicated:
“Otherness comes in a variety of forms and legacies. Marlena Fiol’s account of growing up a German American girl raised by Mennonite missionary parents in a leper colony in Paraguay poignantly captures the familial struggles and existential angst of growing up Other. In a time of unprecedented migration and mobility, her journey of alienation, self-awareness, and ultimate self-healing offers hope and guidance for all who fall outside the mainstream.”
–Mary Yoko Brannen, MBA, PhD, Dr. Merc. H.C. Honorary Professor of International Business, Copenhagen Business School, Professor Emerita, San Jose State University
“Marlena Fiol, PhD, has masterfully blended her professional expertise in identity and learning with her own raw identity-changing experiences to bring us this vulnerable and inspirational story of personal transformation. Honest and brave in its detail, Love is Complicated begins as a heartrending account of a young girl escaping the confines of her strict and often abusive Mennonite community in Paraguay, and ultimately offers a stirring testament to the power of authenticity and forgiveness.”
–Elaine Romanelli, PhD, Emeritus Faculty and Senior Associate Dean of MBA Programs, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University