A great many memoirs written by
victims of domestic violence are published every
year. A few make it big, sometimes landing on the bestseller lists;
however many sell only a handful of copies (but, one
hopes, serve as a cathartic experience for the
writer). It's not that readers have their collective
heads in the sand about domestic violence and aren't
interested in the subject, it's simply that the book
market is awash with memoirs written by victims of
domestic abuse and, although it is terrible to admit
it, after reading a few, the
storylines start to blur into one another as the
same patterns of behavior are repeated in book after
Even if you feel you've read your fill of 'misery memoirs', 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. If I Am Missing or Dead combines Latus's own memoir of her abusive relationships and how she eventually broke the cycle, with a biography of her sister, Amy, who was strangled to death by her boyfriend when she was 37-years-old. The book developed from an article in O Magazine which won an Essay of the Year award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. You can read this article in full at AccessMyLibrary.com (if your library is not a member you can still read the article for free by registering in your own name). Latus, a journalist by trade, writes tightly and economically, without self-pity and with just a hint of humor, as she traces the roots of Amy and her abusive relationships right back to the heart of her family. The path leads to their emotionally abusive father and the patterns of behavior that he entrenched in them that allowed two intelligent, educated women to become embroiled in a string of abusive relationships.
This review was originally published in May 2007, and has been updated for the April 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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