3 out of 4 stars
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A Life in Waiting - The Story of Brandon "Boy" Benson by Katryna Benson is a short non-fictional account of abuse, neglect, endurance and self-discovery, written by the subject's wife.
It begins telling the harrowing tales of abuse that a young boy suffered from his stepmother, Maria. This abuse ranges from physical beatings, all the way through to emotional and phycological trauma. As years go on Brandon becomes a "robot" as the maltreatment he suffers becomes the norm in his life. He forgets the life that he had with his sisters Jennifer and Molly before he came to live with his father and Maria. A glimmer of hope shines in his life when he gets to leave this home and go live with his Grandmother Evelyn. This home, a place where he could finally be a child, is short lived before he finds himself back with his father. However, this time there is no Maria. In her stead is Valerie.
With Valerie, new doors were opened and a resemblance of 'normal' once more returned to this sad story. Eventually, Brandon is reunited with his sister Jennifer who is able to fill him in on the past he has forgotten. As the past unravels itself he is thrown back into memories and buried feelings emerge. You learn of the traumatic circumstances of his childhood, and the evens that lead him to Maria in the first place.
A Life in Waiting was, at times, difficult to read. This is not unusual with non-fictional work centred around the topic of abuse. Sometimes, I found myself trying to pretend that the work was fictional, as this is an easier coping mechanism that imagining a real person going through the events that Brandon did. However, this does not give the story justice or Brandon the respect that he deserves. It takes a brave person to tell this story and for that I applaud him.
There were several aspects of the book I really enjoyed. For the first half of the story, Brandon's name is never mentioned - he is only referred to as 'boy'. This is powerful as is concretes the idea that he has become disjointed from reality and 'lacks personality'. Katryna demonstrates that people did not care enough about him to use his name by not using it herself - giving the reader an insight into the lonely life that Brandon was living.
Another part I admire is the time frame structure Katryna used. You begin learning of his abusive childhood, but not knowing where he came from. As the story progresses his past is revealed which brings the tale in a full circle to where it began – for the reader anyway. It came back in a full sweep, right back to Maria. Maria is obviously a dominating and unforgettable character in his life, and this was shown to the reader by the clever detailing of events.
Overall, I would give A Life in Waiting - The Story of Brandon "Boy" Benson 3 out of 4 stars. Although it was often challenging to read, it showed bravery and endurance. There are, however, grammatical errors throughout and this is why I cannot award it 4 stars. I would not recommend this book to young readers as it could be upsetting to read.
A Life In Waiting
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