Reader’s Voice

Reader’s Voice

We learn, grow and improve from our interaction with one another. I would like to read your thoughts concerning Look Beyond the Smile. Please share.

44 thoughts on “Reader’s Voice

  1. Mattie,
    I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. this morning to finish your book. I have not read a book that quickly since Terry MacMillan’s “Waiting to Exhale“.

    I am not one to cry but I wept as I read through your trials and tribulations. I know that God brought you through those trials so that you could tell the story as you are doing to help other children. I never would have expected that you endured that kind of abuse. Thank God you succeeded in spite of the odds. That is why God sent you the good husband that you have. You are truly my hero. I know that God has a lot of blessings in store for you. May God continue to bless you and I wish you much success with your book.

    With much Delta Love,
    Nancy P. Doughty

  2. I finished the book the same day I bought it. Everywhere I went that day, whenever I had an idle millisecond the book was in my face. I couldn’t put it down. What a guide for all who contact daily with children!
    I’m so proud to know you.

    Peace and continued blessings,

  3. To the Author, also known as Mom,

    Your book “Look Beyond the Smile” exemplifies such profound profiles in courage, determination, self worth, and survival. With tissues in hand and a heavy heart, I read the book in one sitting and through your uncanny ability to vividly describe events, I felt as if I was right there with you. I also felt your wide-ranging emotions in every letter, word, sentence, punctuation mark and paragraph. I had attempted to mentally prep myself to read some of the painful events that you had shared with me over the years, but I was mentally paralyzed and unprepared to fully realize through your written words the enormous struggles of your day-to-day survival mode as an abused child.

    Mom, I know your healing continues and I applaud you with a standing ovation for telling your story to the masses. Congratulations on the release of a valuable teaching tool!

    Love you back beyond words,


    P.S. To those who read the book, the guidance is overwhelming – “If You See Something, Say Something”. Those simple words lead to a simple action that can ultimately save a life. It saved mine.

  4. Mom,

    Your story should be an inspiration to all who read “Look Beyond the Smile”. I could not truly feel the pain you went through from the stories you told me while growing up, but since spending a day reading through my tears, I can say you are a true SURVIVOR. You are the reason why I volunteer my time to youths who are in their own way struggling to survive.

    For those who read this autobiography, I urge you to Look Beyond the Smile of that neighbor, co-worker, best friend, or stranger to reveal the hurt and pain they may feel at the hands of someone they trust and help them seek guidance. You may not realize it at the time, but you just may save their lives. I want to thank those persons who stepped in and came to the rescue of my mom because if it were not for them, I would not be here today.

    Thank you for sharing your story of good times as well as the bad times so that we can see and understand the signs of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse.

    Love always,

  5. Mattie, Mattie, Mattie, if I didn’t get to know you over the years, I would be saying, “how did she survive such traumas”? But, because of no one being you better than you can be you, I can say, “what a woman of strength!” Thanks for having the huspah to share the saga of your childhood abuse and not being on the corner of blame and shame streets. Sharing your story will bring healing to many and I can see this happening in a movie production. Your story personifies the resiliency and the redemption of the human spirit. Look Beyond the Smile is a must read for so many in the helping profession, particularly counselors!
    Love you much,

  6. This book chronicles an unbelievably abusive childhood of an innocent young life. The straightforward, tick-tock narrative beautifully captures the time, place and culture into which the abuse occurred. I have not finished it yet because its emotional impact is so strong that it must be consumed in small segments. I am hoping that somewhere along the line there will be responses from siblings and other family members of how they remember these events. Readers be prepared for tears. Lots of them.

  7. I have finished the book and it is overwhelming. If the author does not have a publicist she should retain one. If she does not have a Hollywood-connected agent she should retain one of those also. With very little effort a scriptwriter can turn this story into an award-winning masterpiece. Send Oprah and Tyler Perry a copy. This story needs to be brought into the consciousness of all Americans, indeed all humanity.

    • Mattie, Your book is just wonderful, I enjoyed reading it. The whole time I was reading I just wanted to give you not 1 hug but many hugs.I always knew you were a special person, and we are so proud that you have been a part of our lives. May God continue to Bless you and your family.
      Hope to see you all soon.
      Evelyn & L.K.

  8. Howdy: Your book arrived on Saturday afternoon and I read the first two chapters immediately. On Tuesday, I sat down to read one more chapter, however, I became so intrigued that I sat still for four hours and read the remainder of your book in one sitting. If I were close to you I would give you a BIG hug. In my humble opinion, your work deserves a spot on the “New York Times Best Seller List”. Sharing your healing journey will help many, many, many people. Readers — the abused and the abusers — will have an opportunity to put on the big girl/body undies and do what is necessary to continue their personal healing journeys in Love and Light. The layout is designed to help the reader focus and “LOOK at what you know now”. I’m too emotional to talk with you now. However, in the near future, I look forward to talking with you. Until then, I wish you all the best.

  9. “Look Beyond the Smile” will help hundreds of thousands of readers to recognize and help children in abusive situations. Mattie Sanders shows great depth and perseverance in her life story. A comprehensive book that is a must read.

    LaQuana Reaves
    School Counselor

  10. “Look Beyond the Smile” took courage, and God’s grace and mercy to be able to describe in words the painful events that transpired in the life of this young lady. The book shows how God gave Mattie the heart to forgive. What a blessing, congratulations!

    Pat Smallwood

  11. Mattie.
    Wonderfully Done!! I especially like the “LOOK” instructions given after each chapter.
    I have always admired your story telling, you have the ability to capture your audience attention with great anticipation. “LOOK Beyond the Smile” was no different.

    I am struggling to find a word to express the feeling I have after reading your book. I got it! COURAGE. The Courage to share your story with everyone and the determination to excel under such adversity.

    Your response to your abusive childhood personifies The Peace and Hope written by The Apostle Paul: We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit…(Roman 5:3-5)

    Be Blessed,
    Your Sister-in-Law,

  12. Mattie, I am finally ‘done’ and I am ‘done’ and I am ‘done’. It was as though I could not get beyond certain pages to recapture what I had heard to reflect what I was reading. You captured so marvelously your life story and I give thanks to God for your powerful witness. It is not just your story, but it is yet still occurring in the lives of many youngsters today. It calls us to truly ‘Look Beyond The Smile’ and I will. I have passed the book on to another Soror who needed to read it. She will also order a copy.

  13. Mattie,
    Wow! To God be the glory. Your life story is one of many children today. Thanks for sharing. There is definitely more beyond many smiles.

  14. Dear Soror Sanders:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I came to SC last week and my mother, Flora Gethers told me that I had to read this book before I returned home. I started reading your story on Labor Day and read over half of the book in one setting and finished the book Monday night, I had to finish reading the book. Your story reminds me of Antoine Fisher. His book: “Finding Fish” talked about his abusive childhood. He also made a conscientious effort to not be a victim of his past. I work in the mental health field, and I plan to share your book with my clients and others. As you continue to share your story, many lives will be changed.

    May God continue to bless and keep you. Thanks for being a victor and not a victim.

  15. “Room,” (Roommate)

    I was not at all surprised to learn that you had become an author, only surprised at the content of the book. While roommates for three years at Johnson C. Smith University, you displayed no indication that you had been so hurt by your mother.

    Since reading your book I searched my memory for clues during our college days, but the only statement which might have been an indicator was one that is a common desire for most females and that was your desire to be a good mother.

    As I read how you continually overcame adverse situation upon adverse situation at home and at school, I said, “That’s my “Room!”

    I am so happy that I had a resilient survivor for a roommate, one who, although constantly knocked down, continuously got up, determined to have a successful life. “Room,” being the Christian that you are , you had the heart to forgive your mother and I admire you even more for that!

    I want to thank Marion, my other “Room,” for being there and keeping Mattie grounded.

    Yes, “Room,” you finally traveled beyond those confining mountains, not only throughout the United States, but also abroad with your family.

    So, I say that you have lived a very successful life, not only as a mother, but as a wife, daughter, niece, educator, and friend in spite of it all!!!

  16. Mattie, what a gift your book is to all. It was always a privilege to work with you, and learn from your God given gifts. You survived to be an inspiration to others and always a teacher to us all. God had a plan for your life, and you are truly fulfilling that plan today. Thank you for sharing your story so others can be better advocates for all children. This is a must read for all educators!! Love you and your heart for the children!! Carolyn Price

  17. Submitted on 2013/07/24 at 10:59 pm

    The one puzzling thought that I come away with after reading this book was, “How can you have so much love, grace and strength after going through so much?” You are such an inspiration to me to be a better person, mom, friend, daughter & Christian (and not in that order)!

    Your book not only educated me; it made me feel breathless, fear, anger, pride and relief! I felt like I was there with you in the story through the good and the bad! In my opinion, you’ve produced a great product.

    I must say that I hate your story…but I’m grateful for your book and the time you took to educate throughout.

    Thank you,

  18. Mattie,
    I was so touched by your book. I never in a million years would have believed you came from such a horrific childhood. I have always credited you for the counselor that I am. I am so truly honored to call you my mentor, teacher, and friend. You taught me so much during my years at Berkeley Middle and now you continue to teach me. I am going to be a much better counselor and make more decisions based on my instinct. Your book has brought about a change in me. I now believe you were meant to change the face of victims of abuse. I hope you know your book will touch everyone who reads it.

  19. OMG! “Look Beyond the smile” is a must read. All that you’ve been through, you still have joy. The ending was touching to know that we can forgive. Keep up the good work.

  20. Wow, what an incredible story of overcoming abuse, neglect and hunger. As a school counselor myself, I see and hear a lot of abuse stories, but reading this book truly opened my eyes. Mattie is one of the true greats. She is an amazing counselor, an inspiring author, a wonderful and caring person, a great mentor and my friend. I am a better counselor today because of Mattie Sanders’ life, being her colleague at Berkeley Middle School, and this must read book. Thank you for reteaching courage, hard work and forgiveness.

  21. Mrs. Donna R. Brooks (Reference Librarian Assistant V-Charleston County Public Library) 1-28-2014
    Mrs. Sanders’ story was very touching and soul stirring. It has left an indelible mark upon my heart. I am so proud of Mrs. Sanders and of her accomplishments in life- in spite of the hurt, pain and disappointments that she had encountered! I have gained more knowledge and a better understanding of the various types of abuse. I am now more aware of the signs of abuse and of the agencies that exist for helping victims of abuse.

  22. I knew of child abuse through others and different related types of information. I thank Mrs. Sanders for her courage in putting in print her struggles with abuse and giving information of helping by being aware of the signs of abuse among many other things. I can only imagine how painful it was for her to do this writing. May your healing continue and best wishes to you always.

  23. Mattie, thank you for an enjoyable read. As the intrigue and suspense increased, it was difficult to put the book down. It was truly inspirational, insightful, educational, hilarious, and made me run the gambit of emotions. I will definitely place it on my list as a book to remember. Thank you and retain that beautiful smile.

  24. Mattie,
    I just finished your novel. I was shocked and pleased that you found the courage to share such a horrific phase of your life. You and I went to college together and we were line sisters together. You came to my wedding in Michigan and no one would have guessed that your childhood was so painful. You always had a smile on your face and we had many laughs together. I love the format of the book. I liked your summaries at the end of various segments. It was very emotional to read but it showed what a survivor you are. My hat goes off to you. You married a man who loves you dearly and you both will always be in my heart.
    Lorraine Monroe- Manning

  25. Mattie,
    My university post office co-worker, sorry to take so long to respond to your book. I read it in one sitting. I knew you were abused because you mentioned a very very tiny clue. I remember you commenting on Marion’s reaction to the scars on your arm. I begged you to tell me and you said I can’t. We were working in the university post office where we spent a lot of time. However, you always had a smile on your face and you laughed a lot. While reading your book, I asked myself the question, How did she overcome the abuse? You had true love from your grandmother during the nurturing stage and you experienced real love. So you knew real love. In addition, you had the love of your adopted family, and your loving husband. Most importantly, you did not abuse your children because you know what love is all about despite your abuse. You turned your experience of abuse into something good with your strength and the many talents God has blessed you with.
    I enjoyed your story although it took me almost fifty years to find out the answer to my question that I asked . I see another book for you, Overcoming abuse, Success after Abuse, or what ever you want to name it.
    Through all the abuse, you were strong. Hope this book can be used at the university level and with workshops training those who work with children on how to spot abuse. Many adults miss the clues. One has to be very perceptive and know the signs. Now get started on the next book.
    You forgave your mother which, was a plus in your life. You were always a positive person. Hope to see you soon.

  26. Mrs. Sanders,

    I finished reading “Look Beyond the Smile” yesterday. I was alone when I read the last chapter. You are filled with the Holy Spirit and I felt His presence as I read this supernatural moment in time of such forgiveness. The moment stirred such emotion in me. You have much courage, dignity and grace! I am privileged to have personally met you and to have read your story! Your book is such a valuable tool that can be used to assist in identifying abuse in others. Thank you for sharing such a personal and painful story.

  27. What an accomplishment! What amazing hope and encouragement you have given to persons who have experienced or are experiencing life’s adversities! I am truly honored to have been asked to write this book review.

    The author writes with such candidness and sincerity which allows the reader to actually feel her pain, hurt, humiliation, and the inner strength that she possesses. This same inner strength gave Mrs. Mattie P. Sanders the courage to tell her heartbreaking and sometimes very emotional story so that others may heal and tell their stories.

    Look Beyond the Smile, gave me, a twenty-four year veteran School Counselor, a deeper understanding and discernment of child abuse and how we as adults overlook the most obvious signs. This is a must read book that gives the most astute indicators and warning signs to adults who work with children and care about their well-being.

    When we, as adults, stop and look to see the hurt behind the smiles; we will then be able to help those who are hurting the most. Mrs. Mattie P. Sanders, you speak as one yet you stand with thousands.

    Gwendolyn LC Snider, Ed.S
    School Counselor
    Past President of South Carolina Counseling Association

  28. This book is a testimony of truth and life as it can be in this world. Be not afraid for God is with US. The author is a living example of God’s guidance through perilous times in her life. We can move on and not get stuck in the tragedies and mishaps of life. Be not dismayed in whatever happens in life. God will take care and help us to move on!
    The ultimate healing and peace comes in sharing, caring, and touching the lives of others especially through Hidden Truth.
    Love you Mattie and the best of luck to you!

  29. Name: Tilda Kinsey
    Subject: Guest speaker @ CCHS
    I am a teacher at Calhoun County School District. Thank you for sharing your story. Hopefully our district will purchase a copy for every teacher in the district.

    • This is a profound book on child abuse and who better to tell it than a survivor! This was an eye opener for me. The title itself tells us why it is easy to overlook the possibility of child abuse. It made me realize some misjudgments that I have made. I had a student who did well in school and was always smiling. This caused me to take little notice when she told me she was unhappy with her father and stepmother at home. She killed herself a month later. I hope I can now take what I have learned from Mrs. Sanders and help children that are suffering. If I can help just one child I will feel blessed. Thank you Mattie from the bottom of my heart!

      • Ms. Hoff, Thank you so very much for your valuable comments to my presentation on Look Beyond the Smile today at Dorchester School District #2. Your reading my book and understanding the tremendous problem that we have with children being abused is a real sign that we can and will make a difference.

  30. You cannot read “Look Beyond the Smile” and not glean something from its many pages. Mrs. Sanders describes her personal accounts with abuse in such vivid detail that with the empathy you feel for her while reading, it also invigorates you to be on careful watch for the children within your reach. And if the book wasn’t enough, her presentation of the book holds you accountable. Thank you for turning the mess in your life into a message for our lives!

  31. Hello Mrs. Sanders. I just finished your book after only 3 days. I’ve had it for a while but was afraid of the emotional tug it would’ve had on me. I’m glad you found the strength to tell your story. I look back on fellow students in my school years & wonder if this was their home situation. I have three questions. What’s the background story of your conception, why did most of your family appear to be afraid of your mother, lastly, what was ‘it’ that caused your mother so much internal pain?

    • Hello Ms. Smalls, I am real pleased that you decided to read my book. In my book I tried to take my audience right along with me from chapter to chapter and assured them that I would somehow survive the next chapter. To answer your questions: I did not know my father, only his name and the relative he lived with and when I was grown, I sought out a copy of his death certificate from the bureau of Vital Statistics. I got a lot of info from that. Secondly, my siblings were all younger than me and when they witnessed the abuse day in and day out they figured that I must be doing something wrong, so they started to distance themselves from me for fear they would get the same treatment. Their father put a stop to that by ordering my mother to not beat the children that they had together. That was all except me. Thirdly, I think her meanness came from the fact that she was an abused wife and I was a bastard child. She passed her aggression down to me which was the only thing she could call her own. She was the oldest of her three siblings and I am told that she would tie them to the railroad tracks when my grandma left the house and dared them to tell when she returned. There are some people who are bad seeds and some who have mental illness. Hope I gave you more insight. I am enjoying talking to all school personnel and other individual groups about what signs and symbols to look for. In my case, there were many. Mattie P. Sanders

  32. This is a book which people from every walk of life can draw deeply and profit greatly. it challenges us to embrace the abused at all levels. It is a candid masterpiece that vividly speaks loudly in every chapter. This book demonstrates the power of transformation against incredible odds.

  33. To Ms. Sanders,
    One word that describes your book is speechless. I was so speechless when I finished. I will probably recommend the book to many people. I loved it so much. I could visualize all of the pain you went through. You did an amazing job writing this book. God bless you. I really never liked reading until my Granddaddy; Ernie started talking about it and introduced it to me. All I wondered was when was the book going to get here so I could start reading it. When I first got in it, I started reading it but only up to chapter 4, because of schoolwork. Also, that was about the same time that I had two of my teeth extracted.
    You made the book amazingly awesome. I was just so surprisingly shocked about what you went through, and still loved at the end. Now, I realize that even through when going through the toughest times, I can always get right back up, or if I see something I have to say something, or still love even though other people don’t show it.
    Thank you, Ms.Sanders, and have a wonderful day. May God bless you with the sweetest heart that you have.


    • Thanks Tavin for your kind remarks. I am delighted to read that you indicated that you learned many healthy safe guards from the book. Don’t just let it stop with you, do as you indicated and spread the word. Each and every man, woman and child need to know that Child Abuse has no place in a humane society. Good luck to you in your school studies.

  34. Mrs. Sanders,

    My sister picked up your book for me at one of your book signings four years ago. Without knowing your story, I knew it would be a difficult read, and so I kept putting it off…until this week. As others have shared, it is a page-turner that transports the reader to all the places and experiences you shared. My heart ached for you and the abuse you suffered. In particularly difficult sections in the book, I cried tears and cried out to God. You are truly an inspiration. Despite your circumstances, you rose above them and positioned yourself to help others. Thank you for charging us to be more aware and alert to the needs of those who are being abused. I have shared your story and your book with my family. After reading your book, I’m sure they will feel the same as I do. It’s evident that writing the book and serving others have been rewarding for you. There is no doubt that your greatest reward is yet to come…when the Lord God Almighty tells you, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

  35. Our book club reads a lot of books, but don’t recall being so close to the main character as I was in this book. I was right there with her during those terrible beatings, I felt the pain. There is one thing about her that moved me more than anything else. How did she manage to live with the many hardships and tribulations her family endured. When you consider the responsibilities she had to take on which were way beyond her tender age. The amazing thing is that she took on household duties, but also found the time and energy to volunteer helping teachers. She has a heart to serve, and she loves the Lord. I ask myself where did this young girl get so much character, and such a burning desire to achieve in school. I can’t imagine that it came from her mother. It is possible that some of it came from her grandmother, but she didn’t spend a lot of time with her. I believe God gave this young girl gifts to use to do exactly what she has done. We have new first hand insight into a major problem facing so many of our young people.

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