3 out of 4 stars
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What is someone faced with abuse supposed to do? More specifically, how can a child learn to overcome gross abuse? In A Broken Childhood, Dr. Lydia Taiwo tells a deeply personal story both of abuse and recovery. From the time she was four or five years of age, Dr. Taiwo suffered unmentionable abuse. Abuse came from both of her parents and encompassed physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, as well as general neglect, isolation, and lack of love. The abuse did not stop even when she became an adult.
Frankly, this book is very difficult to read. As is typical of abuse survivors, the stories are not told with titillating details, nor are they awash in deeply emotional language. Instead, facts are presented with stark terminology, as if giving more descriptions would cause too much pain to both the author as well as the reader. Scars and lifelong pains are results of the physical abuse the author endured. Emotional trauma leaves marks in other, less visible ways.
Why write such a book and expose yourself to the scrutiny of others? The author explains more than one motive. Often the writing down of these memories aids in the general healing process. Additionally, Dr. Taiwo wishes to shed more light on child abuse and provide aid to children currently needing rescue. A third motive was born out of the strange way her parents had of further abusing her by lying to the younger siblings about the fact they had abused the older siblings. A most remarkable aspect to Dr. Taiwo's story is the rare ability she found to not only persevere through abuse, but also to rise up and forgive the perpetrators of abuse—her parents and other family members. This healing did not come easily. Dr. Taiwo details throughout the story how she was able to be lifted up and have life after abuse. Her story features an unwavering faith in God as One who loves her and provides safety.
A Broken Childhood is actually written in three installments. The original book covers the author's childhood up until her parents removed her from the country she had been born in. Book 2 covers the author's life in Nigeria after the parents moved her and a sister to that country in order to escape possible exposure in the UK. Book 3 describes how the author came to ultimate closure and forgiveness. While building on each other chronologically, each book could somewhat stand alone. In particular, Book 3 rehashes a lot of the details from Books 1 and 2. While I found this to be highly repetitive, I realize that the background information would be necessary for a reader who had not already read the first two books.
As I said earlier, this book was very difficult to read. The details are sickening. It is hard to understand how a family could treat a child in this manner. However, the author's sense of victory over the abuse is also inspiring. Since her ability to move on was intensely spiritual and decidedly Christian, someone who rejects Christianity may find more questions than answers. When deciding just who to recommend the book to, my first inclination is to say, everyone! Everyone needs to know that child abuse does happen, and that the secretive nature of abuse makes it difficult for any victim to be rescued. We all need to be more aware. However, there are details in this book that will be a trigger for any abuse victim or survivor. The author's offer of hope through Christ has the potential to reach someone's heart. I would encourage anyone who feels they have an open mind to read the book and see if they, too, can find healing in Dr. Taiwo's message.
Although this is not an easy book to read, I would give it a full star rating if it had been edited better. Most of the errors are from misplaced commas. While this did not hinder my overall engagement with the book, my final rating has to be 3 out of 4 stars.
A Broken Childhood
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