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CinderGirl: My Journey Out of the Ashes to a Life of Hope

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CinderGirl  is the riveting story of one young woman's determination to overcome abuse and hardship in order to help others find hope in their own difficult circumstances. Born into a large working-class family in upstate New York, Christina Meredith endured years of abuse before entering the foster care system as a teenager. With nowhere to turn after she graduated from CinderGirl  is the riveting story of one young woman's determination to overcome abuse and hardship in order to help others find hope in their own difficult circumstances. Born into a large working-class family in upstate New York, Christina Meredith endured years of abuse before entering the foster care system as a teenager. With nowhere to turn after she graduated from high school, Christina lived in her car for almost a year, working three jobs to survive. As she prayed in her car every day, Christina had no idea that in just a few years, she would be crowned Ms. California. She had no idea that her suffering would one day help others find healing. But she did know that she was destined for more, and she would not give up hope no matter the circumstance. In CinderGirl, Christina tells her piercing and poignant story of leaving behind homelessness to become Ms. California and the founder of a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy for foster care children. With stunning vulnerability, Christina invites us into her childhood home and the heart of a child longing to be loved. She invites us to dig deeper into our own personal courage, even in the most grim of conditions. She asks us to journey with her across the country and deep into a growing faith. And in return, you'll embrace the inherent worth that is yours in Christ Jesus.


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CinderGirl  is the riveting story of one young woman's determination to overcome abuse and hardship in order to help others find hope in their own difficult circumstances. Born into a large working-class family in upstate New York, Christina Meredith endured years of abuse before entering the foster care system as a teenager. With nowhere to turn after she graduated from CinderGirl  is the riveting story of one young woman's determination to overcome abuse and hardship in order to help others find hope in their own difficult circumstances. Born into a large working-class family in upstate New York, Christina Meredith endured years of abuse before entering the foster care system as a teenager. With nowhere to turn after she graduated from high school, Christina lived in her car for almost a year, working three jobs to survive. As she prayed in her car every day, Christina had no idea that in just a few years, she would be crowned Ms. California. She had no idea that her suffering would one day help others find healing. But she did know that she was destined for more, and she would not give up hope no matter the circumstance. In CinderGirl, Christina tells her piercing and poignant story of leaving behind homelessness to become Ms. California and the founder of a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy for foster care children. With stunning vulnerability, Christina invites us into her childhood home and the heart of a child longing to be loved. She invites us to dig deeper into our own personal courage, even in the most grim of conditions. She asks us to journey with her across the country and deep into a growing faith. And in return, you'll embrace the inherent worth that is yours in Christ Jesus.

30 review for CinderGirl: My Journey Out of the Ashes to a Life of Hope

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

    Christina Meredith suffered years and years of abuse and it shatters my heart, because no child should ever, EVER, have to endure something like that. This book was not an easy read in the sense that reading her story was so sad. It was traumatic! Her mother essentially hated her with every breath she took. Out of eight siblings Christina was the unwanted child, the ugly child, the useless child. She was called names, beaten, sexually abused by her uncle. This poor little girl lived a horror of a Christina Meredith suffered years and years of abuse and it shatters my heart, because no child should ever, EVER, have to endure something like that. This book was not an easy read in the sense that reading her story was so sad. It was traumatic! Her mother essentially hated her with every breath she took. Out of eight siblings Christina was the unwanted child, the ugly child, the useless child. She was called names, beaten, sexually abused by her uncle. This poor little girl lived a horror of a life! But! Her story proves that ashes can be turned into beauty! Christina Meredith, a former Ms. California is a huge advocate with her platforms for fixing the broken foster care system (something very near and dear to my heart!). She also speaks and works with helping kids with sexual, emotional, physical, and psychological abuse. She gives them a voice in a world that tends to shut them up. Her trauma brought her to a place of redemption and is now giving her the power to make a difference in this world. So, this was a difficult read, but it also gives you a sense of hope in this broken world!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I am so saddened by what Ms. Meredith and her siblings endured and am so amazed by her drive and ambition. Occasionally (as now) I am torn about the star ratings because of the words tied to them. While I very much appreciate that Ms. Meredith is not an author by trade, and while I have great sympathy for her path, I cannot truthfully says I “enjoyed” the book. It was very straight forward and timeline-ish. A fast read and an inspiring subject matter, but just not a book I could get invested in. I am so saddened by what Ms. Meredith and her siblings endured and am so amazed by her drive and ambition. Occasionally (as now) I am torn about the star ratings because of the words tied to them. While I very much appreciate that Ms. Meredith is not an author by trade, and while I have great sympathy for her path, I cannot truthfully says I “enjoyed” the book. It was very straight forward and timeline-ish. A fast read and an inspiring subject matter, but just not a book I could get invested in. Again, however, great respect for the author for her amazing perseverance and the work she is doing!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bible Gateway

    As seen on the TODAY show! Growing up, she rarely heard her own name. Today, she’s here to help you claim the inherent worth that is yours. Born into a large working-class family in upstate New York, Christina Meredith endured years of abuse before entering the foster care system as a teenager. With nowhere to turn after she graduated from high school, Christina lived in her car for almost a year, working three jobs to survive. Read our post with Christina here: https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/ As seen on the TODAY show! Growing up, she rarely heard her own name. Today, she’s here to help you claim the inherent worth that is yours. Born into a large working-class family in upstate New York, Christina Meredith endured years of abuse before entering the foster care system as a teenager. With nowhere to turn after she graduated from high school, Christina lived in her car for almost a year, working three jobs to survive. Read our post with Christina here: https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/201...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    An incredible story. It's difficult to imagine that a child could go through such horrific things at the hands of their mother, it's just unfathomable. The strength and the courage and the hope that is portrayed is truly inspiring. An incredible story. It's difficult to imagine that a child could go through such horrific things at the hands of their mother, it's just unfathomable. The strength and the courage and the hope that is portrayed is truly inspiring.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kari Burke

    As a foster mother, I read this book with great expectation. I hoped to be inspired and encouraged in my role of helping traumatized children in need. Instead, the story broke my heart, horrified me, and left me feeling let down as far as inspiration. Christina Meredith does an excellent job of recounting the abuse and terror she experienced as a child but she feel short of selling the inspirational part of her story. I was appalled by what she went through at the hands of her mother. However, I As a foster mother, I read this book with great expectation. I hoped to be inspired and encouraged in my role of helping traumatized children in need. Instead, the story broke my heart, horrified me, and left me feeling let down as far as inspiration. Christina Meredith does an excellent job of recounting the abuse and terror she experienced as a child but she feel short of selling the inspirational part of her story. I was appalled by what she went through at the hands of her mother. However, I did not feel anything as I read about how she pulled herself out of all that and rose above it all to succeed. A few other reviewers have mentioned that the book read as simply facts listed on paper and that is exactly how I felt the last few chapters were presented. For example, Ms. Meredith talks a lot about the people who helped her along the way but they were not characters in her story as much as just names she throws out here and there. She gives the timeline of living in her car, getting her first apartment, and moving to CA where she won the Ms. California title but again, there is no emotion and virtually no real storytelling...just a recount of the events. So, though the first half of the book did make me want to hug all my children a little tighter and protect them from any harm, abuse, or hurt...the second half just disillusioned and disappointed me... I expected an inspirational happy ending. I didn't really get it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Sternpile

    The writing simply lacks depth, and is very on the surface retelling facts from her childhood. It is very saddening and the information in this book is crazy to hear about, but I just can’t get past the thought that this book is ghostwritten and someone else’s writings of her stories. It may be written by Christina Meridith the Author, but it is highly evident that it is a sensational novel written by the publishing company which is a shame. All my respects to Christina Meredith, but the writing The writing simply lacks depth, and is very on the surface retelling facts from her childhood. It is very saddening and the information in this book is crazy to hear about, but I just can’t get past the thought that this book is ghostwritten and someone else’s writings of her stories. It may be written by Christina Meridith the Author, but it is highly evident that it is a sensational novel written by the publishing company which is a shame. All my respects to Christina Meredith, but the writing is very simple and lacks all sorts of depth and feeling.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mamagans

    First of all, I admire this author and am stunned by what she survived. Her childhood was simply hell and I wish her mother was in jail. She retold the story of her experiences but I didn’t feel the writing conveyed the emotion of those experiences. They came across as facts. The writing lacked depth. I was pleased to see she rose out of the ashes and she should be very proud of herself.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chester Windhelm

    Had a few issues with the continuity of the writing, as well as the sensational aspects of the writing style. Seems to be a poorly ghostwritten book of someone else’s story. Definitely can see issues with transcribing someone else’s words into “one’s own” book

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jerrie

    In this country where we are blessed with so many advantages how dare we add insult to injury by not providing a safe and nurturing environment for the unwanted, unloved children who have been victims of neglect and abuse. Years ago my husband worked for the National Center on Abuse and Neglect, overseeing program grants to states; there was never enough money to make much of an impact. Christina recounts a childhood so horrific you wonder whether some of it might be hallucination brought on by In this country where we are blessed with so many advantages how dare we add insult to injury by not providing a safe and nurturing environment for the unwanted, unloved children who have been victims of neglect and abuse. Years ago my husband worked for the National Center on Abuse and Neglect, overseeing program grants to states; there was never enough money to make much of an impact. Christina recounts a childhood so horrific you wonder whether some of it might be hallucination brought on by pain and fear so awful that most of us cannot even comprehend it. And how does such a sick woman keep finding men who are so weak they do not stop her evil deeds, one even participating. Though almost too hideous to read, the first part is better, as the latter section gets too repetitious and preachy. I applaud her work ethic, healing, ability to rise above her upbringing, reaching out to those willing to help her accomplish her goals. All children have a right to freedom from hunger; love, or at least decency and emotional support; respect; not bullied by anyone; encouragement to set and attain goals; comfort and warmth; education; safety; recreation; wholesome activities; sense of belonging and self assurance. Most of us were fortunate to have these advantages, took them as our due, rarely witnessed any deviation from this when we were kids.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Oak

    Christina Meredith had a rough start to life. Abused by her mother and other adults, it took years for authorities to finally remove her from her mother's home and place her in foster care. But life in foster care was not a perfect fix. At age 18, Meredith aged out of foster care and was suddenly on her own, sometimes even living out of her car as she struggled to make ends meet. Meredith chronicles her engrossing story in her memoir CinderGirl: My Journey Out of the Ashes to a Life of Hope. The Christina Meredith had a rough start to life. Abused by her mother and other adults, it took years for authorities to finally remove her from her mother's home and place her in foster care. But life in foster care was not a perfect fix. At age 18, Meredith aged out of foster care and was suddenly on her own, sometimes even living out of her car as she struggled to make ends meet. Meredith chronicles her engrossing story in her memoir CinderGirl: My Journey Out of the Ashes to a Life of Hope. The book is very captivating, and I read it in one sitting. CinderGirl is the kind of book that you want to tell your friends and family to read so that they can see a close-up look of the plight of children in foster care. Meredith is a smart, hard-working woman, and she was able to pull herself out of her dire circumstances through working long hours and never giving up. I was excited for Meredith when she [spoiler alert] rented her first apartment, moved to California with her sister, and then won the title of Miss California, with foster care reform as her platform. Meredith is now making great waves in foster care reform. I received this book for review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lafourche Parish Library

    Christina Meredith will break your heart, but also show you how your life can drastically change in her biography, Cinder Girl. Christina’s childhood was anything but wonderful. As a child, she was abused in every way imaginable. No matter how bleak her life had become, she was determined to rise above her circumstances. I found Christina’s strength and courage to be truly inspiring. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading true stories about survival, perseverance, faith, and hop Christina Meredith will break your heart, but also show you how your life can drastically change in her biography, Cinder Girl. Christina’s childhood was anything but wonderful. As a child, she was abused in every way imaginable. No matter how bleak her life had become, she was determined to rise above her circumstances. I found Christina’s strength and courage to be truly inspiring. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading true stories about survival, perseverance, faith, and hope. If you enjoy happy endings, you’ll want to read this book. - Crystal, Branch Librarian ARE YOU AND THIS BOOK A GOOD MATCH? DISCOVER MORE WITH NOVELIST APPEALS! GENRE: Autobiographies & Memoirs; Life Stories; Society & Culture SUBJECT: Adult Child Abuse Victims; Child Advocacy; Faith; Foster Care; Foster Home Care Reform; Homeless Teenagers; Nonprofit Organizations; Resilience; Social Advocacy

  12. 5 out of 5

    Donia

    Having spent many years working in Social Services I find myself drawn to books written by individuals who have overcome the horrors of an abusive childhood and have managed to succeed in life. I am particularly curious as to what separates those individuals apart who succeed in life from those who do not. My heart goes out to all children whose childhoods were filled with abuse but I found this memoir lacking. Much of the book was filled with side stories that seemed to go nowhere. Mostly we ar Having spent many years working in Social Services I find myself drawn to books written by individuals who have overcome the horrors of an abusive childhood and have managed to succeed in life. I am particularly curious as to what separates those individuals apart who succeed in life from those who do not. My heart goes out to all children whose childhoods were filled with abuse but I found this memoir lacking. Much of the book was filled with side stories that seemed to go nowhere. Mostly we are TOLD that Meredith climbed out of her predicament(s) by tending bar a great deal and that church played a role and that she met influential people here and there and then won Miss California and I guess ended up in the Army. How this all came about I have little idea at the conclusion of the book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anna Mosca

    It is really interesting and encouraging to read this book where you can marvel at the resilience this child who had to survive some horrific abuse, especially from her mother. I recommend it as is important to know how someone managed to survive all the ugliness that can come your way. Sadly I must say it kind of looses tone toward the end, right when life seems to get marvelous and she collects recognition, mostly because of the “christianese” language she suddenly employs. I am a Christian an It is really interesting and encouraging to read this book where you can marvel at the resilience this child who had to survive some horrific abuse, especially from her mother. I recommend it as is important to know how someone managed to survive all the ugliness that can come your way. Sadly I must say it kind of looses tone toward the end, right when life seems to get marvelous and she collects recognition, mostly because of the “christianese” language she suddenly employs. I am a Christian and I totally agree that God saves people and works miracles of redemptions but somehow all these set phrases accomplish quite the opposite for the reader, and water down the power of this testimony. The testimony and the written style loose, in my opinion, what was a very strong testimony if it would have keep the same pace all along.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Suzie Q

    I read this book and was amazed at how horrible a mother could be to single out and abuse and even encourage her other children to abuse the child she singled out to dump her hatred upon. I was also amazed at Christina Merideth's level of faith and trust in God. I guess I can't relate to going through the horrific trials without finding a way to run or tell the world, that you were being abused and raped by an uncle or even starved by your mom. How did the schools and the teachers not see things I read this book and was amazed at how horrible a mother could be to single out and abuse and even encourage her other children to abuse the child she singled out to dump her hatred upon. I was also amazed at Christina Merideth's level of faith and trust in God. I guess I can't relate to going through the horrific trials without finding a way to run or tell the world, that you were being abused and raped by an uncle or even starved by your mom. How did the schools and the teachers not see things earlier on? I really feel there is a disconnect in regards to the length of time children have to endure such horror at the hands of people they should trust by the legal or justice system that finally finds and punishes these people.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    4/5 stars Wow... This was such a raw, emotional story about overcoming life's trials and abuses to rise from the ashes and aid others in their fight. Christina's story shook me to the core...and made me realize how truly blessed I am. But talk about a strong, God-centered woman...holy wow! This story was very sad and depressing...and at times I just had to close the book and breathe because of how deeply Christina reveals her experiences. But I have to say that I am so glad I read her memoir. It g 4/5 stars Wow... This was such a raw, emotional story about overcoming life's trials and abuses to rise from the ashes and aid others in their fight. Christina's story shook me to the core...and made me realize how truly blessed I am. But talk about a strong, God-centered woman...holy wow! This story was very sad and depressing...and at times I just had to close the book and breathe because of how deeply Christina reveals her experiences. But I have to say that I am so glad I read her memoir. It gave me a new perspective of my own life...and how suffering can truly transform someone. HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Linda John

    Amazing Lady I saw the author, Christina Meredith, on the Mike Huckabee Show this weekend. I just had to purchase and read her book. This is a real eye opener for me about childhood abuse and the children that also end up in foster care. My grandchildren 's cousin died in foster care recently. A young child about eight months of age. Social services would not allow her ten year old brother to protect his baby sister. I wholeheartedly agree that all foster children and abused children need protect Amazing Lady I saw the author, Christina Meredith, on the Mike Huckabee Show this weekend. I just had to purchase and read her book. This is a real eye opener for me about childhood abuse and the children that also end up in foster care. My grandchildren 's cousin died in foster care recently. A young child about eight months of age. Social services would not allow her ten year old brother to protect his baby sister. I wholeheartedly agree that all foster children and abused children need protection. Thank you, Miss Meredith, for being open to sharing your hurt and heartache with us. God has certainly given you a spirit of love and joy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Beth Cortez

    My husband was actually one of Christina’s ROTC instructors at one point in time (not one that she wrote about in the book.) I really enjoyed reading her memoir. I was in tears reading how terribly she was treated by her mother, and how they didn’t believe her when she was raped by her uncle. How any parent could treat their child that way is beyond me. I’m amazed how strong she is and how unwavering her trust in God is after all she’s been through. She is a great role model for girls and foster My husband was actually one of Christina’s ROTC instructors at one point in time (not one that she wrote about in the book.) I really enjoyed reading her memoir. I was in tears reading how terribly she was treated by her mother, and how they didn’t believe her when she was raped by her uncle. How any parent could treat their child that way is beyond me. I’m amazed how strong she is and how unwavering her trust in God is after all she’s been through. She is a great role model for girls and foster children everywhere and it’s so wonderful that she is using her awful experiences for change in this world. Very inspiring.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shandon McFive

    Sharing her story of childhood abuse and endurance, Christina writes of what is looks like to have something inside of you that allows you to keep getting up, fighting, and thriving, even when everything around you wants you to back-off, cringe, and cry. Christina writes with such honesty and the heartbreaking reality of what it looks like to be unloved and unwanted and somehow rising up from that to move mountains! This story will shake you, it will be difficult to read and make sense of, and y Sharing her story of childhood abuse and endurance, Christina writes of what is looks like to have something inside of you that allows you to keep getting up, fighting, and thriving, even when everything around you wants you to back-off, cringe, and cry. Christina writes with such honesty and the heartbreaking reality of what it looks like to be unloved and unwanted and somehow rising up from that to move mountains! This story will shake you, it will be difficult to read and make sense of, and yet you will walk away from it so strong, because the brand of strength Christina has is contagious. Thank you for sharing your story, Christina, well done!

  19. 5 out of 5

    M

    This book was easy to read and short, the story was compelling so I wanted to keep reading. I cried a few times in the story, saddened that so many who could or should have protected her did not and that there was not more resources for her to get help. The last few chapters did not give the ending that I had hoped for. I wished she had talked more about her time in foster care, unless it was only with the two families she knew from her school. I had hoped to read about family reunification with This book was easy to read and short, the story was compelling so I wanted to keep reading. I cried a few times in the story, saddened that so many who could or should have protected her did not and that there was not more resources for her to get help. The last few chapters did not give the ending that I had hoped for. I wished she had talked more about her time in foster care, unless it was only with the two families she knew from her school. I had hoped to read about family reunification with her siblings and how that went.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sherry

    Great story Loved this book. I usually don’t read books like this, but I really enjoyed it. The author did a great job with the characters and their development. I had to stop 3/4 of the way through to see if there was another book, and I was so relieved to find out there are 2 more. Highly recommend.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Audra Wood

    This book is heartbreaking, eye opening, inspiring, motivating, and full of feeling. The story alone rocked me to my core, but "out of the ashes" rises hope, faith and love. They way Christina tells her story is so touching and the writing very strong with emotion and strength. Everyone should read this book! This book is heartbreaking, eye opening, inspiring, motivating, and full of feeling. The story alone rocked me to my core, but "out of the ashes" rises hope, faith and love. They way Christina tells her story is so touching and the writing very strong with emotion and strength. Everyone should read this book!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Charisse Tyson

    Christina's story will absolutely blow your mind. How someone could overcome so much adversity and then use her experiences to help others is more than inspirational. Just when you think nothing more can happen to her, she's hit with another horrific event. It's a great well-written story. I enjoyed the Audible version. Christina's story will absolutely blow your mind. How someone could overcome so much adversity and then use her experiences to help others is more than inspirational. Just when you think nothing more can happen to her, she's hit with another horrific event. It's a great well-written story. I enjoyed the Audible version.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This was so hard to read at times, as are most books concerning child abuse, but this book was so much more than that. Christina's story is so inspiring, she has so much strength and wisdom so far beyond her years, I marvel at her faith and her incredible desire to not only rise above her beyond-horrific childhood, but to not let it define her or her future. This was so hard to read at times, as are most books concerning child abuse, but this book was so much more than that. Christina's story is so inspiring, she has so much strength and wisdom so far beyond her years, I marvel at her faith and her incredible desire to not only rise above her beyond-horrific childhood, but to not let it define her or her future.

  24. 5 out of 5

    donna Jenner

    This book was a very powerful tale of showing how having faith and God in your life really can help you overcome your struggles. She also showed how people of power can miss use that power to do wrong. She also shows how are social services is flawed when it comes to the children.. my heart broke for this girl. But she proved how strong she truly was.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Klusmeyer

    Incredible! I want to hold tight that little girl and tell her how loved and beautiful she is. However as I finished the book...it had to happen. You remember in order to rescue others. The Bible says, we are to lay down our lives for others...that you did. Thank you for sharing your story, I couldn't stop crying. God bless your beautiful soul, Christina. Incredible! I want to hold tight that little girl and tell her how loved and beautiful she is. However as I finished the book...it had to happen. You remember in order to rescue others. The Bible says, we are to lay down our lives for others...that you did. Thank you for sharing your story, I couldn't stop crying. God bless your beautiful soul, Christina.

  26. 5 out of 5

    C.M.

    Christina's story is hard to read, but it's a beautiful demonstration of God's grace. She is a shining example of the fact that past trauma does not define your future, and her "I am not a victim" mindset is so refreshing. Her dedication to the Lord and to reforming the foster care system is inspiring. Worth every second of the read. Christina's story is hard to read, but it's a beautiful demonstration of God's grace. She is a shining example of the fact that past trauma does not define your future, and her "I am not a victim" mindset is so refreshing. Her dedication to the Lord and to reforming the foster care system is inspiring. Worth every second of the read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Robbins

    I listened to this while I got my hair done today. It was a hard read (lots of abuse- emotional, physical, and sexual although not descriptive) but it was also filled with hope. I think it's an important story to hear, and one that makes the reader ask lots of questions although without ready answers. I listened to this while I got my hair done today. It was a hard read (lots of abuse- emotional, physical, and sexual although not descriptive) but it was also filled with hope. I think it's an important story to hear, and one that makes the reader ask lots of questions although without ready answers.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Norma Mouton

    Hope and Forgiveness This autobiography will make you cry when the author retells the trauma she suffered. But the best part is towards the end where she suggests that forgiveness produces hope and joy.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sharyn Davis

    this book was very well written about how children are abused and ignored. The writer tells her personal story very well and how she as a child had the strength and determination to be successful to become a adult to help others see what we do not see and should be dealt with in our society.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Erin Collins

    Wow...this book receives a 10 out of 10! Her story is an inspiration for anyone who has experienced abuse, been involved with foster care, or has overcome tragedies in life. Highly recommend it but it isn’t for the faint of heart. It tells it like it is.

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