The compelling memoir of a young Swedish woman’s journey from a neglected childhood to an abusive marriage and eventually to freedom from violence in the United States.
For 15 years, Bonde lived in fear of the man she had loved and married, whom she had met at a mall in Gothenburg when she was 15. Wisely starting her story with their first meeting, Bonde then backtracks to her childhood outside Gothenburg in the 1970s. Overlooked by parents who were distracted by their own divorce, embarrassed by her father’s renown as the first man to bring strip clubs to Sweden, and raped at 13 by an associate of her father’s, Bonde found refuge among the gentle druggies at the local mall. When she met 16-year-old Jared, she thought she’d found true love. But their meeting drew her into a cycle of abuse and violence that took more than a decade to escape. Bringing readers step by step through the stages of abuse—from Jared’s initial tenderness to his intense jealousy, his abrupt violence and remorse, his increasingly dangerous threats and his eventual imprisonment of her—Bonde portrays the psychology that inclines victims of violence to stay. Short chapters with descriptive subtitles keep the story moving forward, despite the somewhat cumbersome device of dated entries that characterizes the latter half of the book. Intended to help other victims of domestic violence, Bonde’s memoir documents a pervasive social reality, reminding readers that domestic violence crosses economic, social and national boundaries. While her book lacks the polish of literature (e.g., with occasionally awkward phrasings and summary that overpowers some scenes), Bonde’s story provides a fascinating window onto Swedish domestic life. Like a well-edited diary, its details accumulate into a gripping portrait nearly as startling as a Stieg Larsson novel. Challenging the stereotype of Swedish society as socially and sexually progressive, Bonde reveals a culture riven by broken marriages, mistresses, drug abuse and violence. Her memoir will be of particular interest to readers and collections seeking first-person accounts of contemporary Swedish life for women.
An engaging, if rough-hewn, memoir of escape from domestic abuse in Sweden.