BookBrowse Reviews If I Am Missing or Dead by Janine Latus

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If I Am Missing or Dead

A Sister's Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation

by Janine Latus

If I Am Missing or Dead by Janine Latus
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2007, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2008, 336 pages

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At once a confession, a call to break the cycle of domestic abuse, and a deeply felt love letter to the author's baby sister

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 book.

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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