The author chronicles a bizarre, tortuous journey from incest with her jazz-musician father to late-life healing.
Born in Los Angeles to a glamorous couple—Stanley Kenton was a jazz pianist and composer who was forging his own band, and Violet was the beautiful woman who believed in his dreams of success—filmmaker and health-book author Kenton (Raw Juicing, 2009, etc.) was an only child and a somewhat awkward appendage to their show on the road. The anxious, fearful author grew up isolated from other children, her youth spent driving from city to city with her mother and father, staying in hotel rooms most nights. Stanley was a heavy pill-popper and alcohol abuser who was prone to wild mood swings, and his daughter “escaped into a world of my own making, away from the adult craziness around me.” Eventually, her parents broke up, and Violet remarried and moved to another town. Kenton spent summers with her father. When she was 10, a series of shocking events robbed the child of her innocence, beginning with an afternoon in New York spent playing dress-up and stripping with a bunch of theater people—an outing apparently engineered by her paternal grandmother, Stella, a highly shadowy figure in this narrative. Kenton’s closeness with her father—they often slept in the same bed—transformed into a sexual relationship over the next three years. She adored him but learned to dissociate herself, unable to deal with the emotional conflicts required to keep their secret. The book is full of these gaps, in memory and detail, yet the undertow of feeling is powerful. The girl’s increasingly erratic behavior (mysterious illnesses, an attempted suicide) began to alarm her flipped-out dad and evil grandmother Stella, who took advantage of Stanley’s absence to rehabilitate the 13-year-old, drugging her and sending her secretly to a sanatorium for electro-convulsive therapy.
Kenton tells a truly harrowing story of the violence inflicted on her younger self, and she writes eloquently of the time and therapy that allowed her to heal.