Official Review: Boundaries by Leslie Daniels

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e-tasana-williams
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Official Review: Boundaries by Leslie Daniels

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[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Boundaries" by Leslie Daniels.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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By now, stories of sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy are not news. We are familiar with the numerous allegations brought against churches worldwide. In Boundaries by Leslie Daniels, readers are brought into the confidence of one of the victims as she describes the years of systematic violation she endured at the hands of a cleric in her Anglican church.

Set in Canada in the 1960s, this autobiography depicts her five years of childhood sexual abuse by Reverend Talbot, starting at age thirteen and continuing through high school. Ms. Daniels is made to believe she is in a romantic relationship with the reverend, and suffers all the guilty feelings that go along with that dysfunction. On the occasions when she tries to defend herself, the rector treats her as an accomplice and to blame for her own demise. She writes "I still saw the rector as my savior, but now also as my nemesis. I was afraid of him, but I needed him." (P.63)

More than just a tale of the actual violations, Boundaries also details the author's life story and how her destructive childhood affects her adulthood, even fifty years later. Each chapter opens with a short piece of prose related to Ms. Daniels' ongoing abuse and increasingly complex double life. Raised by neglectful parents and taught to keep her body's development secret, she does not feel she can go to anyone with the information of her violations. She comes to feel that Reverend Talbot is all-powerful, and that no one will help her even if she has the courage to tell. She writes "With every thought, it became clear that his word was law, the truth." (P.43)

Boundaries is emotionally difficult to read. The prolonged abuse endured by Ms. Daniels is appalling, even though it is not unique. What I had not read about before is the guilt felt by the victims due to their own body's natural responses to touch, even though the victim is afraid and not complicit. The author expertly depicts this added layer of humiliation and shame.

As I read the autobiography I was astounded by Reverend Talbot's boldness and lack of shame. I found myself wondering if there was a network of clerics committing the same crimes against children nationwide, since there are so many stories similar to Ms. Daniels' experience. Did they give each other advice on how to lure children into their sadistic web? How could prolonged, systematic abuse happen on such a grand scale? It is not news, but the content of the book still enraged me.

I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The editing is superb and the story, although disturbing, is enthralling. Readers who like autobiographies of abuse survivors will appreciate this book. Beware, though, the author describes her repeated victimizations in detail. You may need to read this book in small parts, as the depictions can be overwhelming. Kudos to Ms. Daniels for her bravery and perseverance through an ordeal that could have destroyed her completely, and for sharing her story.

******
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Post by Kdonegan91 »

First off, congrats to the author for such an excellent score and for having the courage and strength to write about such a tough time in her life. Being religious myself, this makes me sick to my stomach that such a religiously powerful man could take advantage of such an innocent young girl. I enjoyed reading your review but I'm going to pass on the book since the incidents are so detailed.
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Post by greenstripedgiraffe »

Thank you for the review. I, too, find this very disturbing. I know that these things occur, and I try diligently to protect my children from having them happen to them personally. But, I don't think I could handle this book. Good job on the review!
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Post by Scott »

Great review @e-tasana-williams!

And congrats to the author, Leslie Daniels, on earning a perfect 4/4 rating! :)

Speaking of the author, I know she has said from her perspective that the abuse was a small percentage of the book. I know she sees the larger thrust of her book as being her dealings with the church, which she wrote with the intent to help others going through this same type of investigation.

I have't read the book, though. Not yet at least :)

e-tasana-williams, I am wondering if you agree that the abuse is actually small percentage of the book? Needless to say, I would not be surprised at all if the author has a different view than the reader on how the book feels to a reader. Well, actually even two readers often have very different reactions to the same book. I'm just curious about your thoughts on the matter since you read the book.
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Post by Insightsintobooks »

I think this book sounds interesting. I'm not sure if be able to read it however due to my own history. I think that it could be helpful to survivors to see that they aren't alone. Thank you for the review. I'm glad to learn about this book.
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Post by e-tasana-williams »

e-tasana-williams, I am wondering if you agree that the abuse is actually small percentage of the book? Needless to say, I would not be surprised at all if the author has a different view than the reader on how the book feels to a reader. Well, actually even two readers often have very different reactions to the same book. I'm just curious about your thoughts on the matter since you read the book.
Thanks for your comments!

I would say the actual abuse comprises 1/3 to 1/2 of the book. Even though the rest of the book isn't directly about abuse, it frequently refers back to it, and its effect on every aspect of her life.
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