Forthcoming Memoir: Love is Complicated

Marlena’s forthcoming memoir Love is Complicated: A Memoir of Healing is a vulnerable and inspirational tale of personal transformation. The memoir tells the story of a girl who stumbled from one disaster in her life to another. She always got back on her feet, thinking she was in control of her life once more, only to hit bottom again.

In the midst of that all-too-familiar place at rock bottom, she finally understood the futility of one more attempt to explain away or justify what was happening to her. At the same time, she gradually became aware that her father, the willful and powerful hero doctor who seemed invincible to her and to the world, was also experiencing blows to his ego. At the intersection of their brokenness, healing became possible.

Rock bottom finally did the trick for her, but how many times do you have to go there, you ask? Based on her experiences during more recent decades, Marlena suggests that a smarter way to grow may be to use each of life’s difficulties as an opportunity to vulnerably learn with others new and healthier ways of being.


Back Cover Blurb:

This heartwarming and often shocking tale of a religious father and his sinful daughter will transform your perception of what it means to simultaneously rebel against and yearn for a father’s love. Marlena was 4 months old when her parents left their comfortable home in Minnesota and took their five children with them to Paraguay, South America. As German Mennonite missionaries, the Schmidt family had been called to serve God by founding a leprosy compound known as Kilometer 81. The scene was set for a life of opposing tensions, where her father’s dedication to his church and to his patients often left Marlena wanting for his attention. She grappled with contradictory desires to please her father and revolt against the strict and often abusive confines he had built up around them. Love is Complicated gradually reveals unexpected openings to discover true love and redemption in the most broken parts of ourselves. READ AN EXCERPT

The Writing of Love is Complicated

Love is Complicated didn’t start as a memoir. 

Scenes spewed onto my computer screen, almost writing themselves. I felt compelled to write them, one after another, if only to get rid of them. 

Because until I wrote them down, each recollected scene would lead me back into the darkness of the many broken moments, particularly with the men in my life.

I needed to reach all the way down under the layers of memory to the bottom of things, to begin to find the hidden patterns, and to finally understand and be able to share my journey from brokenness to reconciliation.

As an aside, in the process of piecing together my story, another has emerged: The story of an extraordinary man, my father.  In fact, his life was so unusual, no one is likely going to believe it to be true. So my husband, Ed O’Connor, and I are working on a novel portraying the life and work of my father, Dr. John Rempel Schmidt.