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Monday, December 19, 2016
LIZ HERE NOW, an extremely moving and well-written indie book about child abuse
LIZ HERE NOW
$19.95 trade paper, available now
Rating: I have no idea
The Publisher Says: A privileged child’s life is forever changed by the bravery of the family’s Black maid when Elizabeth Baxter refuses to silently witness the abuse Todd Connor and his siblings receive at the hands of their wealthy, prominent parents. Overcoming fear for her own safety, Liz endures both prejudice and police brutality in an attempt to protect her “little white babies,” until a lone white police captain believes the truth and becomes her ally. An autobiographical novel set during the tensions of the 1960s civil rights movement, Liz Here Now proves the healing power of love and determination. Only decades later does anyone learn of Liz’s bravery and the horror that had taken place within the Connor’s wealthy home. At Liz’s packed funeral, Todd, the sole white person in the church, is there to give honor to the heroine who loved and saved him, his sister, and brother from the psychotic woman who was a mother in name only, and the complicity of their father, a renowned physician more concerned about protecting his prestige than his own children. Unable to speak through his sorrow, Todd is reminded by Elizabeth’s grieving husband, “Yo’ dark story gonna show off her light. They gonna hear a truth about her fo’ the first time ever.” Those words spur Todd to fulfill Liz’s dying request: “She took my family’s secret to her grave,” he says, “but she asked me to break that silence now.” Liz Here Now is set in the past, but delivers compelling lessons for today: that we all must become aware of the insidious effects of, and speak out against, abuse in any form, whether physical or the humiliating treatment many African-Americans are still subjected to daily.
My Review: I suspect the middle child of my "family" is going to be sorry she sent me this book with a request to review it.
My sisters were teenagers before I knew them at all. I was, in effect, an only child with live-in aunts, and not even that after I was eight. I had an insane, emotionally and sexually abusive mother, a weak and selfish absent father, and no one to turn to. My stepmother (and how it angers my sisters when I call her that!) lived in California, which might as well have been the Moon for all the good it did me. She was, however, the only...ONLY...person who understood me. Her ex-husband had fucked their oldest daughter. Her mother was an insane, abusive religious nut just like mine...and oh so holy that no one inquired why her daughters were so rebellious, so disrespectful. No one wondered why I was so taciturn, so sharp-tongued when I could be bothered to talk to them. No one wondered why I didn't go to school for most of eighth grade, or why my GPA fell from the low 90s to the high 60s (out of 100, okay eldest sister dear, you love to make sure I've given all the relevant facts so much) in the 10th. My stepmother knew, called me, tried to help long-distance...until Mama caught me talking to her and moved us to a different neighborhood, changed our phone number, put out paranoid insane bullshit to all the people we knew that my dad was coming to steal me away...no one ever asked, no one checked, no action was ever taken by anyone except the non-marital partner of a weakling who tried, with no standing at all, to help the best way she could. Even *directly*telling* my father, in so many words, "your ex is fucking that boy" made no dent in his selfishness. His response? "Old Vicious will make my life a living hell if I try to keep the kid."
How do I know? I heard him. They were talking in their bedroom, I was in the room below, and the windows were open.
So "Todd" and I have different details, but the same story. We were both invisible in our agony. "Todd" had Liz, I had my stepmother; neither was related to us and both were motivated by deep and abiding love to do something, anything, to rescue innocents from torture.
His succeeded. Mine failed.
There are no different kinds of abuse. Abuse is abuse. Perpetrators (like my mother, like her mother and her father before her, my weak and useless father, my nasty-tempered and unsympathetic sisters) are controlling the abused and making them as near to invisible as possible, perpetuating their power by the most horrible means imaginable: Robbing a person of personhood. Whoever I might have been absent the rage-storm I lived through either died or was never born. The twisted, miserable man I have always been was the direct creation of my loving family, all of them, all with sharp tongues, no empathy, and not a shred of kindness among them.
So "thanks" sister mine for picking this scab off an unhealable wound. I hated reading this book, I hated "Todd" for surviving so handily, and I sure as hell hate my past and everything that was in it more than ever. Merry fucking christmas.