From Publishers Weekly
At age 37, Janine Latus's younger sister, Amy, was strangled to death by her live-in boyfriend, bundled in a plastic tarp and buried beside a remote country road. It was a wretched end to a too-short life, one frequently marked by disappointment, sadness and struggle. In the hands of a less gifted writer, Amy's story might stand only as an encomium or a cautionary tale: a glimpse into the life of one abused woman, representative of thousands like it. But Latus weaves a double strand. Part memoir, part biography, the book (which grew out of an article in O Magazine
) explores Latus's own relationships with abusive men—and her eventual emancipation from a marriage riven by emotional and physical violence. Latus has a spare, economical style, softened by an undercurrent of humor and marked by a total absence of self-pity. When on a ski vacation, a boyfriend brutally beats her, breaking several of her ribs and her nose—and then makes love to her, in a twisted form of penance—Latus doesn't wince in the retelling. She lets ambiguities and contradictions abide: she loved her husband, even as he humiliated and hurt her. Had things been slightly different, she seems to say, she—and not Amy—might have perished at the hands of her partner. Unforgettable, unsentimental and profoundly affecting, Latus's book resonates long after the final page is turned. (May)
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Having suffered through a childhood of rebellion against an abusive father and escaped to an uncertain early adulthood, Latus maintained contact with her family, particularly her younger sister, Amy. Whereas Janine was thin and obsessed with her appearance, Amy was overweight. Both were in abusive relationships, each giving a highly edited version of her life to her sister. Janine painfully records the slow erosion in her own self-imagetoo eager to please men, even going so far as to have breast implantswhile she chronicles Amy's struggle with weight, divorce from an alcoholic, and eventual enrollment in college. Janine explores her own self-justification for taking abuse from her husband, citing his devotion, passion, and attempts to keep the marriage together. All the time, she recognizes the looks of her stepchildrenthe cringing against imminent explosionsas feelings she and her siblings had had growing up with a volatile and abusive father. When Amy is murdered by yet another unsuitable man, Janine confronts the cost that women pay for pretending that all is well. A heartbreaking look at domestic violence. Bush, Vanessa