Blog Carnival: What I Get From All Those Books

posted in: Book Reviews | 0

What did I get when I read A Brother’s Journey by Richard Pelzer today? A shot of confidence and a flash of inspiration from a male physical abuse survivor. A wish to write my own story tempered with the need for a new day job, but renewed optimism and self-esteem in making that application and any others that may arise. I also gained a key hint for eliminating shame and lack of confidence which the author seemed to discover at 12 and which took me a further 25 years to work out, and which would have taken longer but for reading that book. Also a substitution for the cancelled therapy session and a timesink for the long bus journey. In the case of this specific book, it’s also a primer for Dave Pelzer’s own bestselling series which had been re-issued in the UK, but which have sat on the shelves waiting for me to psych myself up to read them.

For some reason, I don’t get tired of reading these books, I know they are necessary and Strong At The Heart as reviewed previously, gave similar advice, and like A Brother’s Journey, managed to do it with a single line standing out from the text, rather than an entire chapter or even both books as a whole. If reading them helps with inspiration and confidence and optimism then they are worth making the time for, at times especially now when the economy might make you feel like you’re just too busy to read anything.

I’ve found personal survivor stories and the heavier clinical bibles such as Courage To Heal and Victims No Longer, and tales regarded as apocryphal like Sleepers, to be a hell of a lot more useful than out-and-out fiction related to CSA, which to be frank, probably won’t be written by victims and in fact, the less the viewpoint of the victim is featured, the better the book seems to sell. This is something Richard Pelzer is aiming to fix with the books after his third and final child-to-adulthood set of autobiographies is released some time this year. For grown-up survivors it won’t matter so much, but kids and teens emerging around now it will be much more useful to have fiction that can be recommended by teachers or other responsible adults. Back in 1987 there was only Mac by John MacLean for teenagers, which Pan Books chose to import among a collection of American teen fiction covering CSA, AIDS, teen pregnancy and other subjects which were deemed as necessary for education to teens of that era.

I didn’t think books would save my life, but now I can say that they definitely have, from that 1987 teen novel all the way to any of the books I’ve reviewed in the Survivor News and Reviews section of this blog. If you consider yourself too busy, or disconnected, from a survivor of a different generation, race or gender, then you’re closing yourself off to something they might say which you might find useful in your own healing, not to mention in the case of “Burnt” by Ian Colquhoun, something genuinely inspiring even if it’s not abuse-related. So if you feel like your own healing process is wearing you out, take a break and read about someone else’s – and come back to your own, newly refreshed and with ideas to steal!

– CBG

Speaking of the Strong At The Heart Blog, she has republished Tony Sandel’s well researched list of books regarding CSA, here – the lists are separated by gender. To read the other general look at CSA in teen and young adult fiction, then go to the main blog’s homepage and scroll to the bottom of the page, clicking the penultimate link.

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