Monday, April 19, 2010

House Rules: a Memoir of Emotional Abuse

Rachel Sontag's House Rules: A Memoir is a troubling glimpse into the absolute physical and emotional control a parent can exercise over a child's life, and the way that such emotional abuse can have effects that last a lifetime. Sontag, now in her thirties, describes how as a teenager she became the focus of her father's wrath and disturbing brand of mental illness, which prompted him to awaken her in the middle of the night for hours-long diatribes about how she's a disappointment, how he wished she was never born, and how she needs to make amends for all of the imagined wrongs she's committed. Rachel's mother refused to confront her father, however, and instead asked Rachel to go along with him in the interest of keeping the peace, ultimately failing in her role as protector. Once Rachel had left home for college, she began to disentangle herself from her father's control. She also began to sort through and identify many of the personal issues she had when forming and maintaining relationships, issues which she had developed as coping mechanisms. I'm not usually a fan of the "abusive childhood memoir" genre, but I found hope in Rachel's eventual freedom from her father's delusional demands and emotional sabotage. 3 out of 4 Bananas!

Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award 2011 Nominee

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