Book Review: The Family Friend by Matt Lowe

This book review was sent in from our anonymous correspondent over in England. He also passed along this note:

Just for reference Childline, a free telephone number for abused and bullied kids to call for help and a listening ear, began in 1986, but within the past year, it was brought within the umbrella of the 100+ year old National Society For The Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). I think that’s the only reference that non-Brit survivors might not understand immediately.

Matt Lowe’s book takes the autobiographical route of all 40+ years of his life, providing a before, during and after account of grooming and child abuse on a longer term scale and the frightening ease of routine with which that happened and continued. Being a bookseller’s son it shows on the page that Lowe has the writing part in his blood – he takes great care to bring his childhood haunts and stomping grounds to life to illustrate his first 20 years, and also the “waterboarding” drip-drip corrosive effect of grooming, enticement and outright emotional blackmail employed by his abuser to continue his acts.

Most importantly for survivors, Lowe also describes the steps taken to not just get help in great detail but also the career paths which opened up for him as a result. It flashes back and forward from past to present but it’s quite easy to follow and once I reached 100 pages out of 350, I decided to finish it in a single night even if it couldn’t be called a novelistic page-turner.

Most importantly for the casual reader without any “baggage” on the subject, Lowe doesn’t simplify or spare his own or anyone else’s perceived failures or missed opportunities throughout any of his life, not the way his entire family was conned by the abuser in question, to how it continued after the years of grooming with his abuser trying to call his crimes a relationship in order to “keep” him, to the childhood isolation from family and breakup of his proper adult relationship and readjustment to plain fatherhood. It doesn’t talk down to anyone else who was brainwashed and manipulated over a long period at the same time as being sexually abused.

Nowhere is there a hint of “poor me” to this book on the first reading. I essentially read it on two long sittings. I was waiting for the books’s release and bought it to keep. There’s no need for a second volume as it covers the author’s life right up to where he is at the time of printing last year. It’s a great book for British male survivors but in giving an uncompromising account of some the therapeutic steps involved, makes itself useful to survivors worldwide. I picked this up at the perfect time, one year into my healing process when I’m thinking about life after therapy, whenever that is, and The Family Friend also gives one man’s view of how you move on. 

Whenever it’s published in your home country, look it up but give it the time it deserves, it’s by no means a flick-read.

Want to have a book review posted? Feel free to pass it along to me if you don’t have your own blog to post it to, I’d be glad to spread the word!

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