Corporate executive Pemberton spins a grim, touching memoir of his life as an abused foster child and his search for family.
Shuttled from home to home, the author finally found a permanent residence with the Robinsons in New Bedford, Massachusetts. From all outward appearances they were caring adults, but once the social service workers left, they became monsters. The mother was shrewd, manipulative and feral; the father was all menace and brutality. When he was not being psychologically abused or denied the simple pleasures of childhood, he was having his hands held over a stove’s lit burners or getting the kinds of beatings that landed him in the hospital. Books were his saviors, but so too was his diligent quest to find his biological parents, which became equally charged with ambivalence once he learned their identities. His father “had denied me the identity and role I had most wanted, that of a son,” while his mother “had failed at nearly everything, but her greatest failure was motherhood.” Pemberton also managed to track down brothers and sisters, yet these were also fraught affairs. Still, amid the cruelty and mayhem, the author found moments of peace, like his white-brick garage sanctuary: “I had sat in its shade immersed in my latest mystery. I had scaled its walls and watched fireworks from its roof. The world always seemed so much bigger from its height, filled with a promise that eluded me.”
Speaks directly to the miracle of surviving a childhood without love.