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A Handful of Raisins in an Otherwise Empty Room
A Journey from Tragedy to Joy




Michèle’s journey is inspiring — as I read the book (in one sitting!) I was highlighting passages and cheering “YES!”  Transcending and transforming and neutralizing violence is something not every human being can do. Michèle has embodied her dauntless heroine's journey with hard won maturity, creativity and compassion.

Laurel Felice

Ojai, CA       

We never know how another person becomes the person they are, as all of our situations are unique. None of us truly knows how we are going to turn out, in spite of our best planning. It is the combination of good luck and bad luck and her response to it that Michèle captures vividly throughout the book of her life. Sometimes shocking, sometimes humorous, in the end it is deliciously victorious, as sweet as the raisins she so valued as a child. Michèle has surmounted darkness and artistically emerged into the light she shares with all of us. Everyone will find parallels for their own lives somewhere in this book, and each will celebrate their own victory of making the most out of any difficult situation.


Michael Stroud
Santa Clara, CA
July 13, 2021

A Deeply Personal and Honest Telling of One Woman’s Journey Navigating Life’s Challenges


This book was a fantastic read.  The author tells her tragic and inspiring story with a poetic grace and honesty that keeps you enthralled.  I loved experiencing her story through the astute eyes of her childhood and that the format follows the ebb and flow of memories.  I found her unique and deeply personal experiences of adversity to be thoughtful and courageous in the telling.  There is something in this autobiography for many readers . . . for women, for survivors, for learners, and for those seeking to better understand themselves as they face life’s many challenges.


Abbey H.

United States

She Sings a Song of Herself -- and Does So Beautifully

Goethe once said that there was no such thing as an uninteresting life and Michèle Misino de Luca's memoir -- a sort of travelogue of one's life's path -- is a testament to that very fact.  This is neither a tell-all book nor a morality tale but (and perhaps, unintended) a celebration of life itself.  Here we have the story of a woman who, while growing up, found herself navigating the maelstrom of hurdles, roadblocks and gloom that one associates with families caught up in that dark web of poverty and addiction, and yet from that experience (with all the baggage that goes with it) learns NOT so much to turn lemons into lemonade as much as being driven to turn lemons into adventure.  And from her story we see -- through her eyes -- the beauty and wonder of life being lived as she narrates those experiences that impelled her to summon within herself the creativity and courage to meet, survive, overcome share and honor those challenges that befall many of us -- and doing so in sometimes unique, sometimes heart-breaking, sometimes amusing, and always, in engaging ways.  This is not a perfect book, but that, in itself, is part of the charm -- adding to the spiritual beauty that manifests and overcomes whatever imperfection one might see.  For those of you out there who are hearing that inner voice revealing to you the gift that life truly is and yet find yourself lacking the courage to do something about it, read this book.  No doubt the richness and beauty of spirit that emanates from within yourself when living such adventure will, as it obviously has for Michèle, be worth it.
 J. Fry
Sonoma, CA

It is Important to Know You Can Overcome Adversity

I picked up the book, at Michele's art studio...what a loving time talking her with and hang out. I read the book nightly and was so touched by her storytelling, her life. I called her and read a paragraph, on page 162:

It summed up for me how I related to my life, and her life. Do yourself a favor, read this book.

                                                                 Barbara Morales-Rossi
                                                                 Monterey, California


'I am, and always will be a student of life, contemplating what makes us do the things we do,  As we move step by step through use, life comes at us in breezes and bursts of wind.  We experience emotional paradise, hurricanes and tornados.  We stand up to the rough weather as best we can as it marks us forever, scarring us with hardship far more than last the good memories of how we may have danced contentedly in the moonlight or awakened to the glorious symphony of birds.'

A Painful Personal Journey of Never Ending Obstacles

While Seeking Clarity and Forgiveness


I know the author- Met her in Therapy while going through some hard times myself. We became friends and I was aware of many of the things she mentioned in her memoir. But reading the painful details was heart breaking for me. I also met her mother and sister through the years but never knew some of the back stories. I have watched her constantly work to understand her painful past - finding the good times, understanding the behavior of her family. She never gives up hope. I believe we all have times we reflect back and wonder why a memory took place, what caused the outcomes.


This book is proof that you can bring up painful past times and look at them in different hues - which brings clarity. Michèle is always working on finding answers and becoming a better person. This is just one more path to constant that search for personal peace. I have always admired her unstoppable quest!

Joyce Medeiros

San Leandro, California

"We Carry Inside Us the Wonders We Seek Outside Us"

A Handful of Raisins in an Otherwise Empty Room, a memoir by Michèle Misino de Luca has been read with several portions reread. Ms de Luca's memoir reveals the remarkable potential in anyone seeking balance with their past. It shows the profound benefits for those bold enough to step backwards and examine the lingering impressions and sentiments of their lives. Revisiting the author's parents throughout the memoir, their acquaintanceship moors the reader to them. This accompaniment is never tiresome and always welcome.

Recently, several extracts of Joan Didion's writing have been quoted. "We tell ourselves stories so we can live" may be what the author is revealing as well, since our brains are meaning making machines. As the author becomes unburdened from painful self-reproach, Ms de Luca creates a touchstone for the reader to acknowledge and maybe someday model, as she suggests in her preface. Her chronicled journey into the terrain of her past follows a path with chilling solitude, acute disappointment, numbing disenchantment, misspent windfalls, raw discovery, leavening inspiration, elusive harmony and auspicious resolution prompting the reader toward self-reflection and its attendant tender compassion.
The Persian poet Rumi has been quoted as noting, "We carry inside us the wonders we seek outside us." Ms de Luca shares with the reader the wonders she sought and found.

Henry Cuaz
Santa Clarita, CA

A Distinct Voice

I began reading this upon the recommendation of a friend. I’m glad I did!
Overcoming obstacles set in place in her early life, Ms. de Luca has a distinct “voice” that needs to be heard and read, if for no other reason than the uplifting message it provides: We can overcome any bad hand we’re dealt from childhood on if we are willing to face the truth of what made us who we are. Then, armed with self-knowledge and courage and newly found confidence, LIVE into our fullest potential if we choose to will it into being. The author has certainly done that! Rewarding reading.

B. Glenn
Brooklyn New York


A Beautiful Work


Michele's memoir shows how one can overcome, triumph, and make beauty out of extraordinarily difficult life circumstances. A reminder that while we as humans are so much more that the sum of our traumas, Michele has artfully woven her life story with sorrow, joy, grace and humor.

Elissa Mendenhall, M.D.

Walnut Creek, CA



Michèle Misino de Luca has shared her story A Handful of Raisins in an Otherwise Empty Room, creating an emotional life experience. A stunning account starting from her young life and her love of family, Michèle describes the rollercoaster ride she lived through and the strength she maintained during turbulent times. Always longing for her father who left her at an early age, Michèle continued to transform her life adventures reaching for her own personal power.


This book was laid out in such a way that I found each chapter built on the next. From childhood, Michèle found herself in uncomfortable situations and as she continued in life increased her determination to go forward to find her handful of raisins.

Leslie Simpson

New York

Can't Put It Down

A Handful of Raisins is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story of growing up. One young girl who tends for herself and overcomes all of life's challenges on her own. It reads in the first person. Michèle Misino de Luca gives a full accounting of her life and family.


L. Powell


An Honest, Heart-Felt Memoir

I loved this book. My life was rough in the beginning too, and though my exact experiences were different, this is my story and I appreciate it so much that she told it.

Louise Flor

Queens, New York

“I Want To BE Life” – An Indelible Memoir


Reading this book is like watching a sunrise, the author inviting the reader on a stroll through her splintered and fractious childhood as a member of a poverty shaded tender family, a sensitive but challenged father with bi-polar disorder and an early demise at age 41, leaving a wife and family of four children. Our author moved from New York to California. Each phase of her life is s delivered with memorable lines from her journey:

      "Unanswerable questions have always invaded my peace of mind like chiding ghosts one can never escape.”


     “I would say I was a shadow of myself…but you have to have a self to cast a shadow."


     "I was a tiny clump of worthlessness trying desperately not to be noticed.”


     “I wanted a life. I wanted a normal life.”


She turned the page at age 22 when she rented a theater to perform her poetry and songs with her guitar and voice:


     ‘I was the protagonist in my own theatrical drama” – “a new chapter in my life mattered - my life mattered.”


     “I had the first perfect moment of my life.” And her current happy life progressed.


The title of this radiant memoir references a gesture, a simple handful of raisins provided by a caregiver to help Michèle through the nights, a sensitive moment of kindness that lead to her discovery of how to live a life of meaning:


     ‘If I was to be happy in life, I had to learn how…It is for me to own my life… I had to create my own handful of raisins.” This sensitive memoir is a journey of transformation and ascendance, with innumerable moments of enlightenment for us all. Very highly recommended!


California author/artist Michèle Misino de Luca is a gifted poet, composer, and performer, entertaining children and adults alike with her popular appearances as the clown Buki, while successfully creating her rhapsodic acrylic on canvas abstract paintings. And now she joins the cadre of sensitive, esteemed authors of memoirs that make a difference in our view of life.

Grady Harp

Los Angeles

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