Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tolson 4 TEARS* Reviews "My Justice"

My Justice, a memoir by Patricia A. McKnight, is a harrowing story of unrelenting child abuse and life-threatening domestic violence. The author says that she initially hoped her book would open lines of communication between her and her adult children, a generation affected by the ramifications of trauma. Then, Patricia realized that abuse is an unaddressed epidemic, and her family was a microcosm of the problems that plague our society. She chose to offer a solution by making her personal story a publication that serves to educate and empower.

Even a seasoned reader of memoirs about trauma will feel the suffering of the narrator, an innocent child who experienced emotional cruelty, medical/dental neglect, and sexual abuse. Her father abandoned her, her step-father abused her, and her mother neglected her. Imagine wondering if this is the night your step-father is going to kill you, then trying to concentrate in school the next morning, then being the house-maid and nurse-maid and sex-slave when it’s time to be doing your own homework, then being chastised the next day for not having her assignments done on time. No child can be expected to carry-on like this for 12 years! Yet, no one seemed to notice the bruises, skin rashes, and tooth decay, obvious outer wounds that reflected the inner pain of a lost and alone child. Teachers ignored her and classmates harassed her. Tricia felt condemnation based on fear instead of compassion full of love. She also carried the burden of guilt and shame as well as the responsibility to keep the secrets of the disturbed and dysfunctional “family” she so desperately needed to survive because no one intervened!

McKnight uses details, descriptions, and a direct writing model to convey the terror of her childhood and young adulthood. The style seemed stream-of-consciousness, as if telling a story all in one breath. While reading, I held my breath, waiting to exhale. Sometimes the tense changed suddenly from past to present, indicating that emotions are not orderly concepts like chronological time. Sometimes a paragraph was written in 1st person with a sudden shift to “you” statements, as if the narrative was too hard for the author to relive in “I” statements. (First you live through it, then you experience it again when writing, and at different levels of consciousness.) Yet the readers’ final exhalation may be a sigh of relief; despite the torture and toxicity Tricia survived.

My Justice is not only a memoir; it is a call to action. In her own words Patricia A. McKnight implores people to “be the extended arm of help to anyone suffering from the impact of family violence or abuse.” She lives by shining example, offering words of encouragement and opportunities for enlightenment on the subjects of child abuse, rape, incest, and domestic violence. To tell a story about good versus evil, it takes courage to face fears, compassion for oneself and others, and a conviction to tell the truth. Bravo!

Review completed by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story
*Tolson 4 TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted

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