SISTER OF SILENCE by Daleen Berry

SISTER OF SILENCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The memoir of a woman who married the man who sexually molested her from the age of 13, and her subsequent psychological struggles to be freed from his abuse.

Daleen Berry thought she was having a fairly happy childhood, except for her father’s occasional drunken outbursts of verbal and physical abuse against her mother. So when Berry’s neighbor, Eddie—a young man her family likes and the older brother of one of her friends—pushes her into actions she knows are wrong, she tries to stay a “good girl” by convincing herself they’re in love, resolving to marry him one day. When Berry becomes pregnant at 16, they finally do get married; so begins more than a decade of verbal abuse, marital rapes and Eddie’s complete disregard for Berry’s control of her own body. He forces her to have four children before she’s 22. As Eddie’s behavior deteriorates and he finds himself unable to hold a steady job, Berry begins to work outside the house to help make ends meet, despite Eddie’s protests and ridicule. Only then does Berry realize that the abuse she suffers isn’t normal—and it isn’t her fault. To her credit, Berry doesn’t present herself as a saint, nor Eddie as a complete monster. In the book’s foreword, Kenneth V. Lanning, a former FBI agent and consultant in crimes against children, introduces the running theme of the book: Acquaintance or marital rape is still rape. Berry raises the interesting—and uncomfortable—specter of a teenage girl’s budding sexuality being met by the inappropriate attention of an adult who should know better. She questions society’s tacit acceptance of violence toward women, yet all in an involving story of her background, adult life and gradual awakening to her own situation, along with her demand for something better for herself and her children. Berry—an award-winning journalist in her native West Virginia—is an engaging writer, her style fluid and easy to read, with welcome touches of humor and sustained tension throughout. The ending isn’t quite as resolved as one would hope, given that the events described seem to be well in the past, but Berry gives her maturing awareness and growing strength an intriguing, thought-provoking treatment.

An engaging though disturbing view of rape and child abuse from a seldom-seen perspective.

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0615388601
Page count: 342pp
Publisher: Nellie Bly
Program: Kirkus Indie
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