A raw, cathartic read that unflinchingly tackles issues of rape, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness.

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Split

A CHILD, A PRIEST, AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

Abused as a young girl by a Catholic priest, debut memoirist Dispenza sets out to reassemble her life’s “invisible pieces of spirituality and sexuality.”

Beneath scenes of a mostly happy childhood—lessons from her aunt in buying fine china, choosing the best seats on the school bus her mother drove—Dispenza harbored a terrible secret: from the age of 7, she was repeatedly raped by her priest, Father George Neville Rucker. After her first harrowing encounter, Dispenza studied her reflection in the school bathroom only to find that the “little girl at the sink and the little girl in the mirror were no longer connected.” Over the next 40 years, Dispenza wrestled with the repercussions of this split from “Little Mary.” As an adolescent, anything involving sex or the body—menstruation, masturbation, making out—filled her with unbearable shame. In September 1958, after ignoring her parents’ pleas to marry or attend college, 18-year-old Dispenza became a nun. Prayer, manual work, and silence dominated her next 15 years until she once more felt “split and broken in pieces.” From the convent, she went on to serve as principal at several Catholic schools in Washington state, all while struggling to be sexually intimate with the men and women she dated. Her life might have proceeded in this painful, repressed fashion had she not attended a 1989 workshop for the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle called “Sexual Misconduct on the Part of the Clergy.” Here and at a subsequent meeting of women molested by the clergy, Dispenza’s memories came flooding back. Soon thereafter, with the help of therapy, she embraced two crucial facts of her life—“Father Rucker had raped me, and I loved women”—that set her on a path of confrontation, retribution, and the reconciliation of her committed Catholicism with her true self. Like the life it depicts, Dispenza’s memoir consists of one courageous act after another. After coming out, Dispenza recounts scrambling the letters of “depression” to spell “I pressed on.” Her stirring narrative embodies just that: overcoming trauma to bravely take a stand against injustice.

A raw, cathartic read that unflinchingly tackles issues of rape, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9896563-2-0

Page Count: 242

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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