Native pens ‘therapeutic’ book

Published 8:38 pm Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Suffolk native has penned a book about her childhood sure to resonate with others who grew up here.

Viola Robinson, who wrote “Memoirs of a Girl from Suffolk” under her pen name, V.M. Roberts, grew up on Fifth Street. She called the process of writing the 230-page book therapeutic.

“It was therapy for me,” Robinson said. “Ever since I was in fourth grade at East Suffolk Elementary School, that’s when I knew I wanted to be a writer. What I was going to write about, I had no idea.”

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However, life dealt Robinson plenty of material.

“I had a difficult time growing up in Virginia, in my family life,” Robinson said. “The book is mostly about my mother and the way she raised us.”

Now living in Pennsylvania, Robinson owns a medical billing company and is a medical billing and coding instructor for a career school. She also teaches part-time for Kaplan University. But writing about the good times and the bad is her hobby.

“My brother and I and my siblings were outside playing one summer day,” Robinson said, remembering a passage in the book. “We were throwing orange peels at each other. My brother ducked so that an orange peel would not hit him. He hit a trunk and knocked a tooth out. The neighbors came to the door because they thought it was a car accident.”

Robinson also remembered a time she accidentally walked into some hot ashes in the backyard and got blisters on both her feet.

“Those are some of the most memorable passages,” Robinson said. “There are some that are not as comical. I had to bring myself to write that stuff. That was difficult.”

Locals will recognize many of the neighborhoods and businesses mentioned in the book, including Holladay Street, John F. Kennedy High School, J.C. Penney and B.D. Laderburg.

“I mentioned quite a few places that people are going to really recognize,” Robinson said.

The book covers the year Robinson was 10 years old. She currently is working on a sequel that focuses on her high school years.

The book is available for purchase on