A writer recollects an astonishingly dysfunctional childhood under the violent, criminal tyranny of his father.
According to debut author Crow, his father, Thurston, was as intelligent as he was dangerous—apparently the bearer of an uncommonly high IQ, he was also alarmingly volatile. Thurston spent time in prison for nearly beating a man to death and often bragged about other murders he committed or planned to perpetrate. He was also an unrepentant thief who recruited the author to be his accomplice in crime. When Crow was not yet 4 years old, Thurston confided in him that he would soon get rid of Thelma Lou, the author’s mother. Thurston finally forced Crow to orchestrate their abandonment of her. Thelma Lou was mentally disturbed, and her combination of incompetence and motherly negligence consistently endangered her children. The author idolized his father, nevertheless, and pined to become “smart and strong and brave” just like Thurston, sometimes perversely winning his praise for ungovernable mischievousness. Crow struggled at school—he was diagnosed with dyslexia—but still managed to graduate from college and eventually win a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture administration. But Thurston’s madness continued to haunt the author—his father tried to pull Crow’s sister, Sally, into a conspiracy to commit a crime. The author finally felt the need to stop his father and found the courage to try. Crow’s memoir is cinematically gripping—the depth of Thurston’s sociopathic depravity is as riveting as it is repulsive. The author deftly relates that his father conceived the conspiracy with cunning cynicism: “Dad’s logic was simple: He knew that if he involved Sally…she would ask for my help, even when she swore to keep silent. And he knew that I wouldn’t let anything happen to Sally.” Crow writes with confessional frankness and affectingly depicts a childhood lost to emotional and physical abuse. He also thoughtfully captures life on a Native American reservation—Crow partially grew up on a Navajo one.
An extraordinary remembrance that’s both gut-wrenching and inspiring.