A remarkable tale of perseverance and a haunting reminder that abuse can often hide in plain sight.


A stark, shocking memoir that offers a look into the mindset of abused children.

When Anderson (The Big Fib, 2010) was very young, a school psychologist asked her if her parents ever hit her. She writes that she told him no, parroting what her “religiously devout slightly psychotic parents” instructed her to say if she was ever questioned about conditions at home: “My mommy and daddy never, ever hit me, except when I do something really bad.” Anderson writes that she was lying, and the psychologist seemed to know it, but nothing came of the meeting. In reality, she says, her parents were regularly beating, sexually abusing, and emotionally terrorizing her and her 15 siblings. Yet the outside world turned a blind eye, and none of the children were capable of betraying “The Family.” Some may find it hard to imagine how such a situation could go unnoticed for so long, but Anderson says that a combination of psychological manipulation and physical terror allowed the abuse to flourish. She frankly describes instances when she says she betrayed her siblings to protect herself (one of her titular 11 regrets) and when speaking up led to violent repercussions. She also captures the complex relationships that children often have with their abusers. Her mother, she says, could show flashes of affection, and she sometimes felt close to her father, who once told her, “Don’t ever be like me.” But these pleasant memories are few. Worst off, she says, was her younger brother, Ronald, the family scapegoat who spent his formative years handcuffed in a shower stall and eating table scraps. Yet even while suffering the most appalling kinds of neglect, Anderson writes, she retained a hope that life could be better. Her descriptions of her struggle to retain a sense of self and dignity are heartbreaking but inspiring. Eventually, she says, she saw a chance for escape and seized it, joining the Army in her late teens. Although the fates of her other siblings weren’t all so positive, this memoir’s ending offers a ray of hope in an otherwise dark story.

A remarkable tale of perseverance and a haunting reminder that abuse can often hide in plain sight.

Pub Date: May 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0692415924

Page Count: 370

Publisher: Little Bear Publications

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2015

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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