In this unflinchingly candid memoir, debut author Miller recounts a childhood of abuse.
When Miller was only a young child, her mother died in an automobile accident while driving drunk. Her father had divorced her mother and already moved on to another marriage, and he wanted nothing to do with Miller and her three siblings. He also withheld child support. The author moved in her with grandmother, Nana, and suffered under her often unkind authority. Her uncle Henry was an unabashed alcoholic who tyrannized the house with his mercurial bouts of insanity and anger. In one particularly upsetting scene, Henry stabs a pony to death in front of her. Miller enjoyed some respite from Henry’s madness during his frequent stays in a mental hospital. Aunt Charlotte, her mother’s oldest sister, often assumed the role of a mother figure, but she was also an incorrigible alcoholic with a predilection for brazen sexual exhibitionism and promiscuity. Miller was, by her own account, a neurotic and emotional child mercilessly targeted by bullies. Such relentless abuse eventually drove her to alcohol as a path to numbed oblivion, and she nearly died in a car accident driving while drunk, a sad echo of her mother’s death. Just as predictably, she sought comfort in the arms of abusive men, looking for self-destructive co-dependence more than authentic love. She became pregnant at 16 and reluctantly aborted the baby under pressure, a decision she always regretted. After leaving an alcoholic husband, she finally found a path to recovery and redemption through a newly discovered faith in God: “Only as my faith has grown into a deeper and more dependent relationship on God and His Son, Jesus, has my life had the most balance and peace.” This is a grim remembrance told—amazingly—without demonizing the tormentors; in fact, Miller lovingly depicts all, even the most abusive, with a forgiving sympathy. For example, she thoughtfully considers the challenges Nana must have faced when suddenly saddled—well into her 60s—with three children to raise. The theme of this inspiring autobiography—beautifully rendered by the author—seems to be the deeply therapeutic value of granting clemency to one’s abusers.
A profound meditation on the overcoming of past trauma.