New Suffolk’s Regina Calcaterra, an attorney who has run for political office and won accolades for her work championing children, has written a deeply moving book, “Etched in Sand” about a childhood marred by abuse, neglect, and years spent in foster care while struggling to keep her siblings together — and now, her book has soared to #4 on the New York Times bestseller list.
Calcaterra will do a reading and book signing of her memoir “Etched in Sand” on Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Community Action of Southold Town office at 311 Front Street in Greenport.
“For the children you know well, for the children you’ve yet to meet and for the difference you can make, Regina Calcaterra’s story amazes and inspires,” CAST members said in a statement.
Terry Hofer, a member of CAST’s board of directors, said Calcaterra would speak about her memoir, currently on the New York Times Bestseller List for the second time.
“It’s an amazing story about growing up on Long Island and Regina is donating her time to CAST through the author talk to help raise CAST’s visibility in the community,” Hofer said.
The event is particularly meaningful to Calcaterra. “CAST serves Southold residents that are in a need of a hand up — something I was given many times — so helping them help others is the least I can do for such a committed organization,” she said.
In her book, Calcaterra chronicles a childhood marked by neglect, fear, hunger and shame as she struggled to survive in the face of alcoholism and mental illness that her mother, now deceased, battled for years.
But despite the pain, Calcaterra’s story is one of survival, a testament to the indomitable spirit that helped her to climb her way out of despair and reach toward her dreams.
“My childhood has given me the ability to balance — to determine what is important and what isn’t — it has given me perspective. It also provided me with resilience and optimism and, of course, an unwavering empathy toward children in need,” she said.
Of her book’s meteoric success, Calcaterra reflected, “‘Etched in Sand’ has now reappeared on the New York Times Best Seller list — eight months after it fell off. Such a resurgence is extraordinary, especiall’y in the absence of media coverage, therefore proving that the messages in ‘Etched in Sand’ of resilience, perseverance, optimism and how we can positively impact the life of a child in need has resonated nationwide. I am thrilled that its messages are resonating through various demographics throughout the United States.”
On the New York Times Best Seller list, Calcaterra’s book is currently at #4 for Non-Fiction E-Books and #12 for Combined Print and E-Books; it is also #2 on the Wall Street Journal’s Best Sellers list for Non-Fiction E-Books.
The HarperCollins book document’s Calcaterra’s past, a heartbreaking story of a little girl forced to sleep in a car trunk, foraging for food, beaten and left homeless, then sent to the foster care system where she was torn from her younger siblings.
Later, as an adult, Calcaterra found a place on the political landscape, running against New York State Senator Ken LaValle in 2010 and later, serving as former Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s chief deputy.
Last July, Calcaterra was appointed by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo as the executive director to the Moreland Commission to investigate public corruption; prior to that post, she served as executive director of Cuomo’s Moreland Commission on Utility Storm Preparation and Response, with respect to storms that impacted the state, including Sandy.
But no how far her personal star has risen, Calcaterra has remained true to a promise she’s made to ensure government is utilized to help the disenfranchised and desperate in their times of need.
Calcaterra has spoken publicly about her experiences as a board member of You Gotta Believe, an organization that helps find permanent homes for foster children.
Within the hallowed halls of local libraries, Calcaterra said her little-girl self was given wings to fly — the belief that education could pave a road toward her future as she left poverty and desperation behind.
Today, Calcaterra and her siblings are close, with the oldest three all living in Suffolk County and two living out of state.
Her message to children enduring the same agonizing childhoods has remained constant, Calcaterra said: “You will be the one to define your future.You must believe in your light. First imagine what you want your life to be like, then make yourself a promise that every day, no matter how dark things get, you will wake up, put one foot in front of another, and get through what you need to do that day. Then at day’s end, you will be one day closer to your goals. Your journey will be challenging but you must always believe in your light, it will lead you up and out.”