Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review: Torch in the Dark

About the Book:
Torch in the Dark tells the moving story of how Hadiyah Joan Carlyle, a single mother haunted by memories of her own traumatic childhood, pioneered as one of the first women since World War II to enter the trades as a union welder. Beginning in a Jewish immigrant neighborhood in New Jersey, the story moves through San Francisco’s colorful Haight-Ashbury in the sixties to arrive at Fairhaven Shipyard in Bellingham, Washington. For Hadiyah, welding become a metaphor for healing from the dark past as well as a path to self-reliance and economic survival.

While providing insightful perspective on the culture of the 1960’s and 1970’s, Torch in the Dark offers profound inspiration for anyone struggling with issues of abuse and oppression.

Publisher: Book Publishers Network; 1st edition (March 20, 2012) 
ISBN-10: 1937454231
ISBN-13: 978-1937454234
Genre: Memoir
Available in Print & eBook

What Readers are Saying:
“Torch in the Dark" tells the author's story through a series of tightly crafted vignettes and flashbacks. As many women of her era, Joan Carlyle was raised without defined ambition or skills, even the domestic ones. Estranged from her parents, she often felt alone and out of place. She entered adulthood not knowing who she was. She drifted and drifted. Her stories remind us how "freedom" isn't always free. Eventually she became an activist, a mother and a welder.” ~Lucky Charlie

“In prose as hot as her welding torch, Hadiyah Carlyle transports the reader to a time early in the women's movement that must never be forgotten. As one of the first female welders in the West Coast shipyards, Carlyle paved the way for women working in the trades today. You will applaud her strength in sharing this powerful story.” ~Arleen Williams, The Thirty-Ninth Victim

Our Thoughts:
This isn't a memoir for those who aren't fans of reading true-life stories. The verbiage at times is harsh and brass with still that rhythmic lyrical beat to keep you turning the pages. Hadiyah doesn’t hold back the truths, which haunted her for years, subconscious steered her path and confronts later as being a single mother and welder in darkness force her to confront, reflect and revile her inner self and strength.

We applaud Hadiyah for sharing the deepest and sometimes darkest moments of her life, along with the joys of being a mother, female welder and the struggles of both worlds. Her memoir not only shows the reader about her journey, but also of a time in history where young adults were breaking away from the traditions of their parents, country and the 1950s values.

Excerpt from book:

Moving Metal-Shifting Shapes (p. 109)
Spring 1966.  Welding.  I first hear the word from Robert, my next door neighbor on San Pablo Avenue.  New baby.  No job.  No money.  No husband.  I pick up stuff on the street, a cardboard box for a coffee table, a mattress for my bed. I see two bicycle wheels.  I carry them upstairs with the baby on my back.  I look at them.  I want to pull the wheels apart.  I want to twist them, bend them.  I want to dig in there and make my hands move the metal.  I want a different shape than the round rim, the symmetrical spokes.  I want to move what’s inside—the chaos, the crying out, the burning inside me.  I want to move what I can’t.  I am the steel-hardened on the outside.  I need to break open.  I thought I could do it with my hands.  They don’t move, no matter how hard I try.  I bring the bicycle wheels to Robert, who supplies dope and who rides a motorcycle.
                “Oh, you have to cut and weld them,” he says
                “What’s that?”
“Welding—putting metal together.  Can’t do it with bare hands.  You need a torch.  You need equipment.”
                “Welding?” I say.
                “It’s called welding,” he says again.
                I know I have to learn to weld.

Today Hadiyah lives in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood close to her son, Washington State 36th district Legislator Reuven Carlyle, his wife Dr. Wendy Carlyle and their four children. Activist, hiker, devoted grandmother, Hadiyah delights in the wild beauty of the Northwest while remaining connected to her gritty urban East Coast roots.

Though welding is no longer a part of her life, she continues to carry the torch for the empowerment of the oppressed.

You can find out more about Hadiyah Joan Carlyle, Torch in the Dark and her World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

Follow Hadiyah Joan Carlyle at
Twitter @CarlyleHadiyah


  1. I have to take exception with this: "This isn't a memoir for those who aren't fans of reading true-life stories." What is a memoir if it's not a true-life story? So many novels pose as memoir, so much fakery that when a real one comes along we get jaded. Carlyle's memoir is for real. To date, the best piece of writing about the hippy era. No question about it.

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