A memoir presents an “autopsy” of a marriage that was doomed from the start.
Gray (Madame Blavatsky’s Victorian Nightmares, 2017, etc.) met Darren during orientation at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Iowa. She was from Florida, he from Verona, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh. For her, it was indifference at first sight. Not so for him. It took almost four months of persistence for Darren to get the author to start dating him seriously. Three months later, they were engaged. He took her home for Christmas to meet his parents and sister. That would have been a good time for Gray to call it quits. Future mother-in-law Charlene welcomed the news of their engagement with tears and profanities. Future sister-in-law Krystal “stalked around the house like a feral cat.” Misgivings notwithstanding, the couple were married about a year before graduation and returned to Iowa following the wedding. After graduation, they made their first mistake. They came back to the Pittsburgh area and moved in with Darren’s parents. Over the next few months, as they searched for chiropractic jobs, the author channeled her rage at Charlene’s constant snipes and general hostility into a journal. She left that journal behind, tucked in a drawer beneath her underwear, when the couple went to North Carolina to visit Gray’s parents. Charlene found the journal and called Darren in a crazed, vituperative rage. The couple decided to move to North Carolina. In prose overflowing with a healthy dose of sarcastic humor, considerable anger, and an ample supply of recriminations (self- and otherwise), Gray chronicles the 15 mostly dysfunctional years they spent together, from the time they met until they parted. In her engrossing, sharp-edged book, the author—who sometimes overindulges in cathartic expletives—shows that abuse comes in many forms. While Gray details several occurrences of physical violence, she recalls that she held on to the marriage through countless incidents of alcohol-infused verbal aggression. According to the author, Darren’s simpering acquiescence to Charlene—who vociferously ruled her family with a nasty iron fist—was in stark contrast to his demeaning and controlling behavior toward Gray. Readers will find themselves frequently yelling at her, “Get out now!”
A compelling and disturbing reminder to heed those inner warning lights.