1 out of 4 stars
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Written by Vanessa Wren, The Absence of a Present Father is a 27-page memoir about her dysfunctional family and her experience of childhood sexual abuse.
This first-person narrative is an easy read with only 12 chapters. It contains two major parts. The first section recounts the author’s childhood trauma, and the second part is a self-help guide.
The book begins by explaining the importance of a healthy father-daughter relationship and the consequences of a lack thereof. Immediately, this foreshadowing heightens anticipation for the rest of the book. From here on out, Wren’s life unfolds in a series of tragic and chilling events. Some themes might be disturbing for some readers, such as incest, child molestation, physical and emotional abuse.
The author describes her relationship with her mother, grandmother, and siblings—sometimes it is good, other times not. She also describes her sleepwalking disorder and—I was unprepared for this—the dark spirits that haunted her and her brother; naturally, my heart went out to that little girl. I wondered if her trauma had something to do with it. However, the most distressing part was the sexual abuse Wren and her sisters suffered from their father, who is a minister. Moreover, it was hard reading about her mother's denial. Unfortunately, the consequences of abuse followed the author into adulthood. For example, she grew weary of "Godly men"—as she dubs them. Sadly, other horrifying moments would be spoilers if I shared them.
The book’s message is invaluable and a major positive aspect; Wren aims to help victims of abuse regain their self-worth. In addition, she raises awareness about childhood sexual abuse. Though loosely cohesive, the description of her father’s character is raw. I could feel the author’s emotions coming out; consequently, this was another positive aspect.
On the other hand, the copious grammar mistakes were a major negative aspect. For example, incorrect contractions and misspelled words. Also, many paragraphs were long run-on sentences. In addition, the unstructured content was another negative. For instance, there were jumps in the events and unnecessary repetitions. I noticed that the writing style changed in some sections. I assumed some editing was attempted, but it was not enough.
I applaud Wren’s strength and determination. Her story was moving and profound. Regrettably, I rate this book 1 out of 4 stars due to the negatives mentioned above. This book is in dire need of revision in all areas.
In its current condition, I cannot recommend this book to anyone. Once the issues are resolved, I could recommend it to anyone working with victims of abuse. Wren’s story can instill hope. Due to the nature of the subject, I wouldn’t recommend it to sensitive readers.
The Absence of a Present Father
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