Saturday, June 5, 2010

I Will Not Be Silent

This is a difficult book to review. The author, April, details her experiences as a child living in a horrendous existence with physical and emotional abuse. The oldest of four children, she witnesses her uncle stumbling out of her house as a crimson stain spreads across his chest. She is then propelled to find her mother within the walls of her home, crumpled and her face completely blown away by her father's bullets.

After seeking help, she and her siblings are whisked from the crime scene where her father holds out for four more hours before a sniper bullet ends his life.

Told through the mind of a 9 year old child, the author seems to recall in great clarity the details of her feelings of responsibility, fear, inadequacy, and anger. This provides the reader with an empathetic heart towards the 9 year old child who lost so much.

The author points out how everybody failed her. Knowing her dad's propensity for violence and that he was "mean drunk," there were no Child Protective Services, restraining orders were allowed to expire, and the children continued status quo in a dangerous situation. Up to this point, I give the content of the book 4 stars.

As April enters adulthood, she is much less clear with her choices and her path to healing. She details a boyfriend she had off and on for four years who came from a similar background and exhibited violent tendencies. When he returned from a military training, he begged her to try again and she finally took a stand against their being together. Two weeks later he died in a car crash. She laments that her life might have been better if she had accepted his proposal.

Was this a typo? Did she really believe, at the time of publishing, that the young man who provided her a connection by being a survivor of childhood abuse, could have made her life better? I was a little disappointed by her lack of insight.

Eventually, she did marry a man who proved to be abusive. She chronicles her feelings of failure as she eventually ends the marriage, but not before including a barb at her ex-husband that he is still a difficult man.

The author continues into adulthood and finds solace in alcohol. Through clear personal responsibility for her own choices, April painfully accepts her wrong-doings and makes a conscious choice to change her ways. Through God and Jesus Christ she finds redemption and healing.

I'm only reader, but I think the book and message could have been greatly strengthened by April omitting the accusations against her siblings who haven't coped as well as she has and concentrated more on documenting how she found her way to forgiveness. It is clear that her father, at least, suffered from bipolar personality disorder that went undiagnosed and untreated except for his own self-medication. This genetic trait has then been inherited by some of April's siblings. It seemed that she was judging them which was contrary to her Christian message.

I do not mean to criticize April in any way. She is clearly an extraordinary woman who has chosen to face her demons head on, stand firm, and not run from them again. In her quest for healing she has also found a purpose for her survival and a calling to educate others of the dangers of domestic violence. She is willing to be the mouthpiece for the silent child who suffers because so few are willing to get involved.

I cannot reiterate enough how accurately April is able to transport herself to the frightened, desperate 9 year old girl who articulately describes how that 9 year old perceives the life she is living. That perspective, in and of itself, provides an incredible public service. It is unimaginable that she not only survived the experience but was able to recreate it on the pages, revisiting the horrors, and giving that little girl the voice she had not been able to find at the time.

That, in and of itself, is nothing less than heroic.

I do hope, however, that April will be able to revisit her adult self and be more specific with her personal healing, as I believe this would be critical in assisting other adult survivors of child abuse and horrors.


Bookventures said...

Great review. Am expecting a copy of this book in the mail soon so its good to get some heads up about the book. Thanks for posting this.

CJ Sime said...

stars? how does it compare to "A Child Called It" ?

CountessLaurie said...

Thanks for the review! I was so blessed to have a decent childhood.