Layla has overcome a multitude of hardships. It is almost impossible to comprehend how much her life has
changed over the years and how strong one woman can actually be when push comes to shove. From abuse
endured at a tender age to failed relationships with men who repeatedly took advantage of both her and her
family, Layla has seen and survived it all. As a young mother herself, Layla understands the importance of
protecting her children and the impact their environment will have on their futures. It is at all costs that Layla
looks onward and upward when life’s curveballs never cease coming her way.
Despite My Odds: A Memoir, by Denise Monique, is the true story of the author’s tumultuous upbringing,
the difficult path that led her to true love, and her second shot at success. Monique’s life story is completely
captivating. The descriptions of her childhood and her mother’s neglectful manner pulls at the reader’s
heartstrings. The author’s life, unfortunately, is one with which many readers will relate. The amount of
bravery it has taken for Monique to tell her story is immense, and her candor is, at times, chilling in its raw
It is not often that I read a book cover-to-cover in a sitting, but Monique’s begs to be one of those books
worthy of a one-and-done session. I immediately found myself lost in the tragedy that was her childhood
and rooting for every one of her relationships to finally be the one that took her life in a positive direction. I was invested from the first page–completely. Her frustrations and losses became, if for a moment in time, mine. Monique has a way of making the reader feel as if they are lifelong friends. She writes in a way this open, honest, engaging, and, most of all, freeing. This is a gripping work of the author’s heart from beginning to end.
Despite My Odds: A Memoir is a must-read for anyone who has survived abuse and is looking for inspiration and the encouragement to keep looking forward. Monique’s willingness to examine her past and share it is a gift to readers everywhere. It is through stories like hers that we find purpose in our pain and real hope for healing. Though any reader stands to gain from Monique’s story, I highly recommend her book to social service workers and guidance counselors. There is a level of empathy that can be reached by absorbing Monique’s story they will find nowhere else. It is through the eyes of survivors we can find answers.
Author and Tri-C Grad Highlighted in “Pretty Women Hustle”
Denise Monique majored in human services at Tri-C, has authored several books
As a child, Denise Monique loved to read just about anything. It began a lifelong interest in the written word.
"I loved the places a writer's imagination could take me," she said in a recent interview with Pretty Women Hustle magazine.
Monique is a licensed social worker who graduated in 2009 from Cuyahoga Community College, where she earned an associate degree in human services. She went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in social work from Cleveland State University and is in the process of completing a master’s degree in social administration from Case Western Reserve University.
But whenever she has spare time, the mother of five and grandmother of eight writes. She’s penned several children’s books as well as a book aimed at adults, Despite My Odds: A Memoir, which is available as an e-book on Amazon.
Monique — who also writes under her married name, Denise Caviness — encourages young writers to keep practicing and honing their skills as she did.
"Aspiring writers should write, write, write," Monique told Pretty Women Hustle. "Write something each day — it doesn’t have to make sense. A true writer also reads. Allow your mind to take you on journeys you’ve never seen."
September 10, 2020
Despite My Odds by Denise Monique
From the fearless fingertips of Denise Monique comes Despite My Odds, a powerful and painful memoir of an unconventional childhood, a traumatic youth, and a perseverant adulthood that is both compelling and heartbreaking.
Layla is an enigmatic focal point, one whom it seems the entire world is stacked against, but as her memories unfold, patterns emerge, systemic failures appear, and the long-term emotional weight of trauma becomes clear. From sexual assault and early encounters with police officers to dangerous relationships and chronically low self-esteem, this is not an easy book to swallow; it will choke you up and force you to take a breath and process. The ascendant arc of Layla’s life, fortunately, holds a plethora of hope, and the author writes of her own dynamic life with maturity, sensitivity, and grace.
Millions of people experience trauma and hardship when they’re young, but a small percentage of those people can recount their experience with such emotion and power. Monique benefits from a simplicity of storytelling that makes the content even more impactful – from police brutality and early revelations of evil to personal moments of trauma, shame, recovery, and grief.
There are some moments that feel less polished, or the recollections become tangential, but that is excused to some degree in the realm of memoir. As a whole, Despite My Odds is a revelatory and bold disclosure of one writer’s most vulnerable truths.