In this memoir, Dawn Everson, age 61, covers a lot of ground across her native Australia, and a lot of pain, beginning at the hands of her abusive, mentally ill father. “Fear was my companion as a child,” she writes guilelessly.
Everson removed photos on the advice of her publisher, but her words spare no one as she relates her father’s groping; her rape at the hands of her brother and his subsequent trial; her neglectful husband’s demanding Army career; her disappointments with the Christian church; and her “abandonment” by government agencies during her appeals for help with physical and mental health issues. One bright spot is her trusting, loving relationship with the man she married as a teenager, Rod (repeatedly and endearingly referred to as “my darling”).
Her story unfolds chronologically, which makes events easy to follow, and Everson conveys her young, innocent self beautifully, narrating hellish events from natural disaster to a dangerously unloving mother with precision. Therapy, her Christian faith and a loving marriage make this strong Aussie a survivor.
But unfortunately her story is difficult to read overall. The author gives the same emphasis to the murder her family witnesses in Papua New Guinea as she does to the neighbors’ dogs’ antics, which makes the reading experience tedious. In addition, it’s extremely frustrating to learn of her inclination toward victimization and repeated “betrayals” and depression while she continues to keep her abusive family of origin inexplicably close.
In the end, this hefty tome is an admirable act of therapy. And Everson may successfully inspire others facing adversity, as she hopes. But while she has covered a lot of ground, indeed — across space and spiritual development – she hasn’t written her story in a compelling manner. The book’s reading challenges will make it difficult for many to persevere through the entire length of the narrative.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.