Synopsis: (Goodreads) Flipping through a bag of old photographs, Lynn Hellers relives her traumatic childhood growing up in the low-income row houses of Kingston, Ontario, in the 1970s and 80s. Against the backdrop of the dramatic social and political upheaval of the era, Lynn’s young life is dominated by crushing poverty and the violent explosions of her alcoholic and abusive father. When his anger wasn’t vented on their mother, he turned to Lynn and her younger siblings, who quickly learned to keep their thoughts to themselves. Amidst the burden of survival, Lynn’s coming of age is further complicated by a profound crisis of faith and heartbreaking confusion around her sexuality. Her only respite came from her caring and gentle maternal grandparents, who offered a safe haven and encouraged her to pursue her passion for visual art as well as a determination to carve out a life for herself.
Review: This is a tough but honest read. I am well aware of Kingston and have been there many times and it’s always different when you are reading a book where you actually know all the places mentioned. It makes it more real and it makes it feel more honest because you’ve been there.
The story starts out when Lynn is a young girl. She has three younger siblings and she is the oldest. Her father is a raging alcoholic with clear and present anger issues and other substance abuse problems. Her mother also suffered from different substance abuse issues and is abused by the father herself, as well as ignores what happens to her children. There is a lot of hitting, name calling, pushing around, and sexual assault. There is no food to eat some of the time, no love between parents and kids, and strange situations like a Monkey in the backyard.
There were parts of this story that is very hard to read. Some parts where Lynn could have ended up raped but due to the kindness of others was saved. There were parts you couldn’t put down the book because you wanted to know what happened. They all had to live with this without help of social services. This was also a time where there was not as much help or places to escape when you were having a problem at home. I wanted to jump in this book and hug all of these kids and tell them it would be okay. They are strong and bigger than this.
There was a lot of hope in this book. Despite the odds most of the kids came out okay and went on to live normal happy lives. I am really happy there was an update at the end of this book as I was curious to see what happened to the other kids. I have met the author and she is a wonderful lady. It’s a very brave thing to come out and talk about her experiences.
I recommend this book to anyone who like a biography and doesn’t mind reading about hard times that happen to other people this is for you. I wouldn’t give it to anyone younger than 16 as it is descriptive.
Overall a great book and I am very happy that I was able to read it.