“As overwhelming as it could sometimes be, failure was not an option.”

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"Life in Its Rawest Form is a great book, worth the read. When someone is as open about their life as the author was, you can't help but to root for them. This book grabbed my attention from page 1 and kept it to the end."



Life in Its Rawest Form

This is the story of Qiana - a young girl whose body and soul are battered by abuse, neglect, and abandonment. She grows up in an environment impoverished by drug- and alcohol-addicted parents. She dreams of and hopes for a better life, wishing she could morph into a life of pure peace and happiness. But extenuating circumstances throughout her childhood and young adulthood prevent her from enjoying that life.

Instead, the adversity and oppression she and her siblings frequently endure keep that nostalgic dream tucked away in a far-off place. This young Qiana often wonders why she was born into these circumstances, and why others, perhaps more deserving of such circumstances, were not. She questions whether God is punishing her for being born. She has a hard time understanding why anyone, especially a child, must endure so much pain and hardship.

Eventually, the young girl is separated from her family and placed in foster homes, group homes, and shelters.

"Regardless of how dark the past may have been, there is always hope for a brighter future.”

When she becomes a mother at the age of 15, her hopes for a brighter future diminish somewhat, yet she continues to believe that future will be possible. Her journey is riddled with struggles. Nothing comes easy. She perseveres, scars from the past being the only real help she has. Somehow, she figures out how to use her scars and experiences as opportunities for the future she’s dreamed of for so long. Regardless of the odds, Qiana relentlessly searches for the future of her dreams – and she triumphs. 

Life in Its Rawest Form is an inspiring true story of how far hope in the heart of a young, abused, and disadvantaged child can take her. 

Paperback: 222 pages

Publisher: Words of Inspiration Publishing (May 22, 2017)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0998618004

ISBN-13: 978-0998618005

Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches

Available in Paperback and ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers

Distribution through Ingram for bookstores & libraries


Qiana was born in Gary, Indiana, shortly before her father was imprisoned, and financial struggles eventually lead to her becoming a welfare recipient of the State of Indiana. This also begins the family’s constant uprooting and multiple evictions for failure to pay the rent.

Not long after Qiana’s father goes to prison, her mother meets the man who will become a stepfather to her and her brother, and the father of a baby girl they deeply love.

Life takes a drastic turn, as both parents repeatedly abuse drugs and alcohol. That toxic combination, along with financial struggles, creates a tumultuous home life filled with violence, abuse, and neglect.

Qiana’s mother and stepfather’s relationship is a long-term, on-again, off-again one. She, her mother, and siblings are frequently forced to move in with friends or family. Hardships are plentiful—among them, lack of food and proper day-to-day needs.

Yet, Qiana’s mother never misses an opportunity to get high. She uses any and every resource available to get high or intoxicated. Most of the time, she leaves her children at home alone for hours (sometimes days) without food to eat, and, often, without heat, lights, and water.

Qiana and her siblings only have each other. At their tender ages of eight, six, and less than a year old, Qiana’s brother acts as protector for his two sisters, while Qiana acts as both big sister and mother-figure to her baby sister. Unfortunately, this is the norm in their community, so they have no one they can turn to for help.

Life gets worse. Qiana’s mother’s drug and alcohol addictions reach the point where, on occasion, Qiana is put into harmful situations, including physical and sexual abuse. At the time, she is unaware of the long-term effects those experiences will have. 

Qiana sometimes feels hopeless and less confident that life will improve. She is never given the chance to fantasize about a Cinderella life, like other little girls do, or, for that matter, enjoy life as a young child. Instead, for the majority of her growing-up years, she worries about her younger sister’s well-being, keeping her siblings and herself safe, and pleading with their mother not to get high or intoxicated. This is the life Qiana knew for many years.

Things Are Forever Changing

Qiana’s father is released from prison after serving seven years. She always loved her father, often fantasizing that she was “Daddy’s girl”. She hopes that he will rescue them from their dysfunctional life. Quickly, she becomes disappointed when he reverts to his old ways, having battled alcohol addiction from a young age. He was always extremely abusive, physically and verbally, to her mother throughout their entire relationship. Following prison life, it isn’t long before he is drinking heavily again.

Qiana’s mother makes several attempts to put her life on the right track. One time, she sends Qiana and her brother to temporarily live with family, in Rochester, New York. She and Qiana’s younger sister stay behind in Indiana.

Almost one year later, Qiana and her brother return to Indiana, anxious to see their mother and sister. They’re excited to start their new and improved life. However, Qiana’s hopes and dreams of having a sober, nurturing mother is short-lived. In fact, not much changes–except their zip code.

After several unsuccessful attempts, Qiana’s mother moves the family to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to try again. Once more, 10-year-old Qiana hopes that her mom succeeds at becoming permanently clean and sober.

 Something to Believe In

Relocating to Minnesota is life-changing for Qiana and her family. It is the storm before the calm. Minnesota residents and laws seemed quite different from Indiana’s. Here, abuse and child negligence are actionable offenses—and people actually take notice and get involved.

One particularly notable day is the beginning of the family’s long road to redemption. As part of the norm, Qiana’s brother is protecting Qiana and her sister from their enraged, drunken mom. For good or bad, what takes place on this day physically and emotionally changes Qiana’s dream for a brighter, more peaceful future. She is now further away from finding out what a normal life is like.

In the midst of darkness, when life feels like capital punishment for being born, Qiana sees a dim ray of hope. Having no one to turn to or rely on, she develops faith that God will be with her every step of the way, as her life and her family’s lives transition.

Nine Months Later

As Qiana grows up, the feeling of emptiness grows within her. She continues to long for her mother’s love and affection.

One day, Qiana meets someone who takes her attention away from the continual family chaos. He makes her laugh, he brings a sense of ease into her life, and she feels secure, in spite of the problems at home. His presence is a breath of fresh air and gives her peace of mind.

Everything in their relationship moves fast. Shortly before Qiana turns 15, she learns she is pregnant. She is determined not to abandon this baby the way she felt abandoned by her parents. This is her chance to feel loved and needed by someone. She promises herself that even this won’t end her hopes and dreams for a brighter future. It just means she’ll have to persevere to work much harder for it.


Qiana understands that in order to have a better outcome for the future, she has to think differently. Among her toughest challenges are not allowing her mother’s addictions and poor choices to affect her own choices, and not following in her mother’s footsteps and those of others around her.

“I couldn’t give up or look back, because no one else had my back. The more I understood that, the more I pushed myself to work harder each day.”

With a sliver of hope, with cuts, bruises, and a wounded spirit, Qiana is fiercely determined to persevere in conquering her past and to exceed society’s expectations. Her misfortunes inspire her to forge a better future. Though not a single day is easy as she pursues her dream, she never stops dreaming, and she never gives up. She works tirelessly, she overcomes old obstacles—and, early on, she achieves success. Qiana’s journey for a better life ends in triumph!

Qiana’s marvelous story of hope, inspiration, determination, and her tested formula for success can help others who want to beat their own odds—regardless of what has come before—to triumph over the impossible.

©2017 Qiana Hicks /  Author • Speaker • Youth Advocate • Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota /