NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An attorney and New York state official, who grew up abused, neglected and homeless on Long Island, is no longer hiding from her past.
“My entire professional life I’ve shunned my background, I never wanted to be defined by my childhood experience,” Regina Calcaterra told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.
But now her recently released memoir, “Etched In Sand,” has hit the bestseller list.
“It’s getting an amazing reaction,” Calcaterra said. “I’m hearing from people around the world.”
In the book, Calcaterra describes in shocking detail how she and her four siblings struggled to survive, growing up at the hands of their abusive, drug-addicted and mentally unstable mother.
“She was constantly abandoning us all across Suffolk County in homes and trailers and behind supermarkets,” Calcaterra said. “She abandoned us in a house in Rocky Point in the middle of winter with no heat and my sister Cherie got pneumonia and almost died.”
Calcaterra and her siblings were left with no choice but to learn to fend for themselves since they were abandoned for weeks, sometimes months at a time.
“We managed to figure out how to do things on our own and we stole food to eat from supermarkets, we stole it from farms,” Calcaterra said.
Calcaterra went on to beat the odds, graduating from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 1988 and receiving her law degree in 1996.
Now, she wants to help other neglected kids “to remind them that no child is a lost cause,” and hopes her book will help “in giving kids a voice that really don’t have a voice.”
Calcaterra is also a board member of “You Gotta Believe,” an organization that helps find adoptive parents for older children in foster care.
She will be signing copies of her memoir at the Book Revue in Huntington at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23.
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