In her first memoir, Marie tells a story of growing up in 1940 and ’50s Canada full of hardship, strength and ultimately forgiveness.
After her mother died and her father proved incapable of caring for children, Marie and her 13 brothers and sisters were placed in an orphanage. She was sent to live with a foster family shortly after her fourth birthday. Her abusive foster mother hit her, and she sometimes suffered beatings for the tiniest infractions. When she turned 11, her father took her in again, but soon he began his own campaign of rape and abuse, claiming that because her body was “malformed” she needed “treatments”—basically a series of molestations that continued through her teenage years. She escaped to a Roman Catholic boarding school where a supportive priest helped Marie confront her father. She remained in the boarding school until she met Ryan, a young Irishman who did his best to help her move on from her past. The two teens married despite the objections of both Marie’s Catholic family and Ryan’s Protestant one. After many years of hard work and raising a family, Marie finally faced her past. She dealt with her alcohol dependency and returned to Montreal to reconcile with her foster mother. The author’s story is harrowing, but she tempers the dark moments with stories about her boarding school roommates, who prove to be great friends; her older brother, Norman, who does his best to shield her from their father; and her young husband, Ryan, who supports her and offers her a new life. Her writing style is simple and direct, and she talks about her family with clarity. The narrative would have benefited from more context; as Marie grows up, and society changes around her, more detail on Montreal’s culture would have deepened the story.
A straightforward account of childhood abuse and adult reconciliation.