In April 2002, Janine Latus's youngest sister, Amy, wrote a note and taped it to the inside of her desk drawer. Today Ron Ball and I are romantically involved, it read, but I fear I have placed myself at risk in a variety of ways. Based on his criminal past, writing this out just seems like the smart thing to do. If I am missing or dead this obviously has not protected me...
That same spring Janine Latus was struggling to leave her marriage -- a marriage to a handsome and successful man. A marriage others emulated. A marriage in which she felt she could do nothing right and everything wrong. A marriage in which she felt afraid, controlled, inadequate, and trapped.
Ten weeks later, Janine Latus had left her marriage. She was on a business trip to the East Coast, savoring her freedom, attending a work conference, when she received a call from her sister Jane asking if she'd heard from Amy. Immediately, Janine's blood ran cold. Amy was missing.
Helicopters went up and search dogs went out. Coworkers and neighbors and family members plastered missing posters with Amy's picture across the county. It took more than two weeks to find Amy's body, wrapped in a tarpaulin and buried at a building site. It took nearly two years before her killer, her former boyfriend Ron Ball, was sentenced for her murder.
Amy died in silent fear and pain. Haunted by this, Janine Latus turned her journalistic eye inward. How, she wondered, did two seemingly well-adjusted, successful women end up in strings of physically or emotionally abusive relationships with men? If I Am Missing or Dead is a heart-wrenching journey of discovery as Janine Latus traces the roots of her own -- and her sister's -- victimization with unflinching candor. This beautifully written memoir will move readers from the first to the last page. At once a confession, a call to break the cycle of abuse, and a deeply felt love letter to her baby sister, Amy Lynne Latus, If I Am Missing or Dead is an unforgettable read.
Even if you feel you've read your fill of memoirs about domestic violence, take a look at If I Am Missing or Dead, which stands out from the crowd for a number of factors, not least being the quality of its writing. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Latus writes here to save the lives of women like her sister and herself, so desperate for love that they'll pay any price for it. An honest, unsparing look at the deadly erosion of self-worth.
Starred Review. Unforgettable, unsentimental and profoundly affecting, Latus's book resonates long after the final page is turned.
Unfolds like a gripping novel...gorgeous prose...[Janine's] bravery...shines in her struggle to rediscover her own self worth.
Julie Gregory, author of Sickened
From the first line I was captured and couldn't put the book down. In these pages is the echo of so many other stories I have known. You may have known Amy. You might have been Amy. I could have been Amy. For anyone trapped in the maddening internal banter that justifies another's sinister actions, read this book. You will walk taller from these pages. A story of heartbreak and liberation.
Betsy Lerner, author of Food and Loathing
Janine Latus' memoir of domestic abuse depicts two life journeys: Janine's own escape from a violent boyfriend and her sister's tragic death at the hands of one. Both stories are powerful cautionary tales that shine a bright light into the darkness of domestic abuse. There are no heroes here -- just real people whose bravely told stories could save lives.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Judy Warren If I am Missing or Dead I thought I was going to read about Amy, not Janine Latus. I was frustrated that never happened until the last few pages. While I loved the author's writing style, at times I found the book overwhelmingly narcisstic since the focus was all about... Read More
If I Am Missing or Dead
is Janine Latus's first book.
She is a freelance writer, radio
commentator, and regular speaker
on domestic abuse issues. She
has busked on the streets of
Chicago to write about what it's
like to sing for your supper.
She has galloped the beaches of
the Dominican Republic, eaten
her way through Kansas City and
danced herself into a frenzy,
all to gather the kind of
you-are-there details that make
a story sing. She has coaxed
women to tell her how much they
weigh and why, and couples to
admit how much they earn, how
they spend their money and what
they'd like to do differently.
She has cried along with women
as they described surviving
mastectomies, and wept with
their family members when they
did not. She lives in...
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