3 out of 4 stars
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How we perceive the world around us is shaped by the environment we grew up in and the influence of those who were a part of our youth. For author Amy Hannigan, her childhood was wrought with mental and physical abuse at the hands of the man who should have been one of her most significant role models. In her book, Ever-Changing Truth, she gives her readers an honest look into what she, her mother and two sisters endured in a household where explosive outbursts, threats of violence and death were a common occurrence.
Chapter one begins with the author recounting an event that occurred when she was a two-year-old child. She had pushed the images deep into the recesses of her mind, but after so many years of hiding the truth, it all comes tumbling out in a torrent of tears that were needing to be shed and for the facts to come into the light. From there on and consisting of 123 pages with 19 concise chapters, she goes into heartwrenching detail of the horrific upbringing she was subjected to as the youngest member in the family. Her mother, sadly and frustratingly, kept following the same course of action. No matter how crazy and close to killing them he would come, she would always leave but then drag them all back to suffer more. Somehow, she had convinced herself through repeated brainwashing and low self-esteem that she deserved the abuse and refused to divorce him. This exemplifies that once we tell ourselves a lie enough times, it becomes the truth. Thus, the title is drawn from a life lived with secrets, cover-ups, and manipulation.
The book contains background information on the author's lineage and it becomes quite plain that her dad was brought up in the same type of household that he created for her and her siblings. Her mother, on the other hand, was raised by Papaw and Mamaw who offered temporary respite to the war-torn children and their mother as they would allow them to escape for a while by living in their home. MaMaw wrapped her love around them and introduced the author to faith and trust in Jesus.
This was the bright spot of the book. Often while reading segments where the girls were being tormented, I would have to shut the pages and stare at the cover of the little girl who looks to be escaping through a door. The author explains in some instances of feeling a warm presence protecting her when situations were beyond her ability to defend herself. Miraculously, she would often find ways to deal or negotiate through her dad's insanity so that his mood would change or not escalate. To be clear, the behavior of her father went far into her adult years, but she was able to rise up and figure out ways to circumvent his control that he tried to exercise over her continually.
I liked the way this author was able to put down on paper all that she experienced without writing in a bitter tone. I believe that is another example of how God has shown her the way to healing and bringing her out of a place of darkness so she can fully live in freedom far and away from her past. Yet, at the same time, she is using her former pain as a way to reach out to others who have gone through similar circumstances or who may be in them right now. As a mother of two girls, she is applying these lessons to the next generation as a way to break the curse and darkness that she was born into without any choice.
There was nothing I didn't like about this book. The emotional impact was not lost on this reader as I often cried because of the unnecessary pain inflicted on this family by way of control and bodily harm by a person who thrived off the anguish of others. While not easy to read at times, her writing conveys what it should and unmasks what she was wrongfully told to keep hidden from others.
For those who like to see Christian faith in action, then this book would appeal to you. There are some references to prayer and scriptures quoted, but it isn't overly done. This book contains graphic scenes of violence that may not be enjoyed by those who are sensitive to such matters, however, because the book is centered around abuse, it is necessary. I found it refreshing that no foul language was included as I expected. In most situations where anger is expressed so wickedly, a person's choice of words accompanies that emotion. I have no doubt it did exist, but the author probably chose to eliminate that so younger people wouldn't be subjected to it.
Even with all of its great qualities, I have to give this a 3 out of 4 stars due to finding at least ten errors surrounding punctuation. This is the only reason for a deduction of a star because this book is extremely well done. I would recommend another round of proofreading to clean up a few sentences.
In closing, I found myself thinking of this verse from Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works everything together for those who love him (NIV). This author offers a beacon of hope for those who are recovering from the confusion of domestic abuse, and she sounds the alarm, especially for young women, so they will know what to look for in a potential partner to avoid being trapped in this vicious cycle.
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