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Wholly Unraveled: A Memoir

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Sometimes all that it takes to start over is the courage to say you will. In Kathleen’s home, red jeans were a sin. Parties were punishable with violence. Fear was part of the daily norm. Growing up in a Catholic cult, under the unforgiving eye of her abusive father, Kathleen knew from an early age that if she were to survive, she’d have to do it on her own.But when the Sometimes all that it takes to start over is the courage to say you will. In Kathleen’s home, red jeans were a sin. Parties were punishable with violence. Fear was part of the daily norm. Growing up in a Catholic cult, under the unforgiving eye of her abusive father, Kathleen knew from an early age that if she were to survive, she’d have to do it on her own.But when the time came to escape, she found herself in a damaging spiral of self-destruction. At rock bottom, and with nowhere to go, Kathleen stepped off a bus in the last place she ever thought she’d find peace: a remote community in rural Canada. Spending a year in almost complete silence, Kathleen feared this experience would prove to be just another step in her unraveling. Instead, with her demons quieted, she emerged with a fresh understanding of self, an empowering new purpose, and a sense of worthiness that she would never let be challenged again.Wholly Unraveled is Keele Burgin’s gripping and inspiring journey of self-discovery and of finally finding her voice against nearly insurmountable odds.


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Sometimes all that it takes to start over is the courage to say you will. In Kathleen’s home, red jeans were a sin. Parties were punishable with violence. Fear was part of the daily norm. Growing up in a Catholic cult, under the unforgiving eye of her abusive father, Kathleen knew from an early age that if she were to survive, she’d have to do it on her own.But when the Sometimes all that it takes to start over is the courage to say you will. In Kathleen’s home, red jeans were a sin. Parties were punishable with violence. Fear was part of the daily norm. Growing up in a Catholic cult, under the unforgiving eye of her abusive father, Kathleen knew from an early age that if she were to survive, she’d have to do it on her own.But when the time came to escape, she found herself in a damaging spiral of self-destruction. At rock bottom, and with nowhere to go, Kathleen stepped off a bus in the last place she ever thought she’d find peace: a remote community in rural Canada. Spending a year in almost complete silence, Kathleen feared this experience would prove to be just another step in her unraveling. Instead, with her demons quieted, she emerged with a fresh understanding of self, an empowering new purpose, and a sense of worthiness that she would never let be challenged again.Wholly Unraveled is Keele Burgin’s gripping and inspiring journey of self-discovery and of finally finding her voice against nearly insurmountable odds.

30 review for Wholly Unraveled: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susanne

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was an Amazon First reads for March. This was such an odd reading experience: on the one hand shocking descriptions of abuse leading to addiction and self-destructive behaviour, on the other all the characters (including the narrator) are so one-dimensional large parts of the book don't ring quite true. I couldn't get a grip of her family, was she the only child being abused and if so, why? Why were the parents ok with the daughters going to parties but not with her wearing jeans? Has the aut This was an Amazon First reads for March. This was such an odd reading experience: on the one hand shocking descriptions of abuse leading to addiction and self-destructive behaviour, on the other all the characters (including the narrator) are so one-dimensional large parts of the book don't ring quite true. I couldn't get a grip of her family, was she the only child being abused and if so, why? Why were the parents ok with the daughters going to parties but not with her wearing jeans? Has the author come to any kind of understanding of her family dynamics? One specific episode that bothered me was after she gets arrested for having a party in the neighbours' house her punishment is confinement to the pool house. So a legitimate crime she was actually arrested for gets this soft treatment, while wearing jeans gets her beaten with a stick?? Not saying it didn't happen this way, but some kind of explanation would have been interesting. And how did such a controlling family agree to send her away to college with no supervision? I also didn't understand why she later chose to enter a different cult-like environment. Did she really overcome addiction by doing laundry in silence and being locked up in a cabin in the woods? After the outburst with the priest I expected some kind of revelation that she was just running from one oppressive religion to another, but instead this is what shows her the way forward? And why did her father never contact her to bring her back into the fold before she went to live in the "Madonna House"? How did he even know he would find her there? Ultimately a somewhat interesting read, but it left me with too many unanswered questions.

  2. 4 out of 5

    twilight gecko

    i was caught up in this book from page one.. i read it in 2 days.. took my kindle to bed with me, reading page after page under the covers.. fell asleep with it.. put most of life on hold today and just finished it.. i saw so much of myself in her words.. i admit, as others have reviewed and stated that there are so many parts of her story left unknowing.. but those are her memories, stories and nightmares.. i'm sure they will make it to print for our hungry eyes at some point.. but that's what i i was caught up in this book from page one.. i read it in 2 days.. took my kindle to bed with me, reading page after page under the covers.. fell asleep with it.. put most of life on hold today and just finished it.. i saw so much of myself in her words.. i admit, as others have reviewed and stated that there are so many parts of her story left unknowing.. but those are her memories, stories and nightmares.. i'm sure they will make it to print for our hungry eyes at some point.. but that's what i like about her, her random bits of reflection and which layers of the onion she decides to peel back for us.. when i was reading her first moments of abuse, i noticed my body flush and my heart start to race, i was carrying the anxiety in me, thru her, thru me.. it made me feel more than i thought.. 5 stars all day, all night long.. bravo! for a brave womans voice thru vulnerability.. i appreciate it..

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kira

    TRIGGER WARNING: Detailed descriptions of child abuse and rape. If these are triggers for you, think twice before reading this book. This book was extremely frustrating to read. I understand that people do not remember every detail of their childhood, but when you are writing about it, you need to provide some reason for the things that happen. The first section of the book is a series of unrelated incidents, connected only by the abuse meted out by Kathleen's father. (Kathleen is her birth name TRIGGER WARNING: Detailed descriptions of child abuse and rape. If these are triggers for you, think twice before reading this book. This book was extremely frustrating to read. I understand that people do not remember every detail of their childhood, but when you are writing about it, you need to provide some reason for the things that happen. The first section of the book is a series of unrelated incidents, connected only by the abuse meted out by Kathleen's father. (Kathleen is her birth name so she uses it through the book; she does not explain how she comes to call herself "Keele," nor does she explain how it is pronounced, which I found frustrating.) Although there are four girls in the family, and later twin boys, one of whom died as an infant (apparently from SIDS but this is not discussed nor explained), Kathleen is the chosen scapegoat for the family. She alone is beaten, whipped with a belt, made to sleep in the garage, etc. And she alone is blamed for something that very likely was not her fault, and (view spoiler)[her father shot at her twice and missed - it is not clear whether he missed on purpose or if he was just a bad shot. Considering how far he took her into the desert, it seems likely that he really did intend to kill her. (hide spoiler)] Her father was definitely mentally ill, and her mother was worse in a way because her own mental illness caused her to retreat to a world inside her head instead of protecting her children. After growing up in her father's "Catholic" cult (I put it in quotation marks because obviously her father was not a Catholic priest, and he was the head of the cult), it seems ironic and contradictory that a different type of cult was where Kathleen ended up in an attempt to heal herself from her childhood trauma. Apparently it worked, because in skimming through the Acknowledgements, she writes as if she has her life completely under control now and shares loving relationships with her children and friends. It is not clear whether she maintains a relationship with any family members, although mention is made of one of her children "accidentally" meeting her father. Why she would live in an area that would allow her father back into her life in any way, much less into her children's lives, is a complete mystery to me. I read this book because there are a few similarities between my childhood and Kathleen's. As it turns out, despite the surface similarities, she and I have totally different personalities and we handled the situations in completely different ways. I was rebellious and left home as soon as I could. From the age of fourteen or so, my relationship with my father was almost nonexistent, even though we lived in the same house. (view spoiler)[And if my father had tried to shoot me like Kathleen's did, I would probably be in prison now because I have no doubt that I would have cut his throat while he slept. Please note it is easy to say that now, when I am the same age my father was when he died. I honestly can't say what I would have done if I was thirteen, the age Kathleen was when it happened. (hide spoiler)] Kathleen also left home - and that was another question that was never answered. Considering her father's hold on her, why did he let her go halfway across the country for college? And why did Kathleen tell him where she was when she joined the cult in Canada? She mentions writing to Shirley, their cook, who was more of a parent to her than either of her biological parents, so it's possible her father found out that Shirley was getting letters and forced her to reveal Kathleen's whereabouts. But this is a question that should have been answered in the book. Readers shouldn't have to guess. Initially I gave this book three stars but thinking about it as I wrote this review, I decided it only deserves two stars. First of all, the graphic descriptions of child abuse and rape are unnecessary. It's like watching a slasher movie that shows every blood spurt. I don't want to see that, and I don't want to read about it. Secondly, the book is very poorly edited. A decent editor would have required Kathleen/Keele to put her stories into context and to answer the questions that her readers would naturally have. I seriously cannot recommend this book to anyone. I got it as a Prime First Reads book and all I can say is I'm glad it was free (although it really isn't, because Prime certainly isn't free). Read at your own risk.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Free from Amazon as part of the March First Reads. The depictions of abuse are seriously rough and Kathleen's destructive behavior in the second section of the book is tough to watch. But overall it's an uneven book. How did she grow her life after leaving Madonna House? What is her current relationship with Shirley? With her siblings? Her parents? I read the acknowledgements just to see if there was some mention of her current life and if I could ascertain anything. How did you make it out? How do Free from Amazon as part of the March First Reads. The depictions of abuse are seriously rough and Kathleen's destructive behavior in the second section of the book is tough to watch. But overall it's an uneven book. How did she grow her life after leaving Madonna House? What is her current relationship with Shirley? With her siblings? Her parents? I read the acknowledgements just to see if there was some mention of her current life and if I could ascertain anything. How did you make it out? How do you live now? ARGH. So many questions.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ann-Marie "Cookie M."

    Keele Burgin went through a childhood that made mine look like 18 years at Disney World. My father was an authoritarian Catholic man who always had to be right, and we children were little bundles of Original Sin that needed to be corrected and molded into good people. But, he loved us. He was consistent. He played with us. We just learned, or tried to learn not to push his buttons. Keele's father was self-righteous, vindictive and mean. Her mother read frightened and submissive. Keele acted out Keele Burgin went through a childhood that made mine look like 18 years at Disney World. My father was an authoritarian Catholic man who always had to be right, and we children were little bundles of Original Sin that needed to be corrected and molded into good people. But, he loved us. He was consistent. He played with us. We just learned, or tried to learn not to push his buttons. Keele's father was self-righteous, vindictive and mean. Her mother read frightened and submissive. Keele acted out, rebelled and got kicked out. She spent years self abusing and hating herself until she ended up at a remote retreat center where she was forced to reckon with her anger and hatred. This book is a tough read. But it made me think something. When I was a kid, and things were bad at my house, and my parents were yelling and screaming at us at the tops of their lungs, and saying awful things, why didn't anyone ever say something, or come to our rescue. Maybe it was because worse things were quietly going on in other houses.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Doyle

    This is an unbelievable story of survival. Kathleen, if you were here right now I’d hug the heck out of you. I wouldn’t speak — just hug — because I have no words. Again, unbelievable! There aren’t enough words to describe Kathleen’s father. Mean? Too small a word. Cruel? Nope, not big enough. Heartless? If this were fiction, I’d say, “C’mon, that would never happen.” But it’s non-fiction, and it did happen. It’s just incredibly cruel that a parent — a dad — could inflict so much pain on their c This is an unbelievable story of survival. Kathleen, if you were here right now I’d hug the heck out of you. I wouldn’t speak — just hug — because I have no words. Again, unbelievable! There aren’t enough words to describe Kathleen’s father. Mean? Too small a word. Cruel? Nope, not big enough. Heartless? If this were fiction, I’d say, “C’mon, that would never happen.” But it’s non-fiction, and it did happen. It’s just incredibly cruel that a parent — a dad — could inflict so much pain on their child. Kathleen’s story is remarkable. Congratulations! (That’s all I’ll say since I don’t want to include a Spoiler.) Congratulations on surviving and living. Thank you, Ms. Burgin for allowing me to read this very raw and honest memoir that reveals glimpses into your life, a life that I cannot even imagine.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jonna Ventura

    This was a difficult read and left me with too many questions...why why why??? I found it ironic that she ran away from the abuse in one cult to only then find herself seeking help in another. I do understand everyone has their own journey and Kathleen's journey was a tragic one...very tragic. I'm giving 2.5 stars for the unclear writing and lack of connecting the dots. This was a difficult read and left me with too many questions...why why why??? I found it ironic that she ran away from the abuse in one cult to only then find herself seeking help in another. I do understand everyone has their own journey and Kathleen's journey was a tragic one...very tragic. I'm giving 2.5 stars for the unclear writing and lack of connecting the dots.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Charlee

    This was my Amazon First Reads pick for the month of March. I'm honestly not sure how to feel about this book. On one hand, it was an engrossing story that grabbed onto me and didn't want to let me go until I finished it. On the other hand, there was so much self-destruction and bouncing from one to cult to what sounded like another that I found myself getting annoyed. Reading about her growing up was hard because she had no control over that. Reading about her adult years was also hard because s This was my Amazon First Reads pick for the month of March. I'm honestly not sure how to feel about this book. On one hand, it was an engrossing story that grabbed onto me and didn't want to let me go until I finished it. On the other hand, there was so much self-destruction and bouncing from one to cult to what sounded like another that I found myself getting annoyed. Reading about her growing up was hard because she had no control over that. Reading about her adult years was also hard because she did. At the end, I felt like we were told a half story. A story about a horrible childhood that turned into a dreadful adulthood with many questions left unanswered. I'm glad that it sounds like she finally found peace. I just wish she would have let us into that part of her life like she did the rest of it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Allison Vella

    Totally engrossing but there's just too little resolution for the reader. Researching the author after the fact, it seems she goes on to do absolutely incredible things which prove the most amazing self growth and healing. But how? How does she leave Toronto and accomplish all these things with no family or money? Does she ever meet up with her siblings again? Why does she take her son to meet her father? Did she ever make amends with Logan? What happened to Grace? There are just so many holes t Totally engrossing but there's just too little resolution for the reader. Researching the author after the fact, it seems she goes on to do absolutely incredible things which prove the most amazing self growth and healing. But how? How does she leave Toronto and accomplish all these things with no family or money? Does she ever meet up with her siblings again? Why does she take her son to meet her father? Did she ever make amends with Logan? What happened to Grace? There are just so many holes that make it a struggle to have closure. I kudos the author for sharing her horrible tale and hope she publishes an after note with some answers.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pam S

    Human beings tend to avoid discomfort; this has likely become hardwired into our DNA after decades of evolution. Sometimes, however, feeling uncomfortable isn't all bad, especially when treading outside our comfort zone leads to a better understanding of the world around us, for better or worse. This book pulled me in many directions, some of them profoundly uncomfortable. I am not easily upset by what I read and it made me squirm at times. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Initially, I was intereste Human beings tend to avoid discomfort; this has likely become hardwired into our DNA after decades of evolution. Sometimes, however, feeling uncomfortable isn't all bad, especially when treading outside our comfort zone leads to a better understanding of the world around us, for better or worse. This book pulled me in many directions, some of them profoundly uncomfortable. I am not easily upset by what I read and it made me squirm at times. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Initially, I was interested in this book after seeing the (perhaps inevitable) comparisons to Tara Westover’s Educated, which I absolutely loved, in many reviews when it was first released. I immediately downloaded it. Despite my initial interest, life happened, and the title sat languishing in my Kindle for six months before I got a chance to start it. I finally began reading it, only to discover that I had a really, really hard time getting into it. This was strange, because it is exactly the kind of intense, harrowing, narrative memoir that I tend to gravitate towards like a moth to a flame. I ended up setting it aside for another few months, during which I completed a handful of other books (including a few memoirs) before picking it up again and finally getting caught up in the story of Kylee Burgin, the daughter of an abusive, domineering and mercurial religious cult leader father and a docile, look-the-other-way (and therefore complicit) mother. As for the comparisons to Educated, I believe they are valid, to a point, but perhaps not particularly apt. While there are definitely some similarities, such as the toxic combination of the physically and mentally abusive father and the passively neglectful mother, this is where the similarities (mostly) end. To describe these two memoirs as similar, does, I think, an injustice to one major difference; Westover was raised in a rural environment in abject poverty, while Burgin was raised in an urban, wealthy household. Where Westover had to work doing manual labor to earn a meager living, Burgin lived in a mansion with servants. These are, in some ways literally, different worlds. That said, there are touchstones that the two women’s stories share; the religious zealot’s justification for abuse and male domination, the submissive mother who defers to the domineering father, and myriad other, smaller similarities that I surmise many abused women share. The narrative structure and writing style of Burgin’s book is different than Westover’s though, and the thread of melancholy that weaves through its pages is both unique in feel and universal in scope. Kylee Burgin is a strong writer, and her use of language to convey emotion is clearly evident in these pages. Descriptions of pivotal events often manage to be at once jarring and fluid, a skill that I have to come to admire and respect in my extensive memoir reading. Burgin’s journey from abused child, to rebellious teenager, to introspective adult turns out to be compelling, despite some odd organizational choices. Both books were brutal, beautiful reads that leave one with the sense that even extreme obstacles can be overcome, if not forgotten. Overall, I found this to be a difficult but ultimately rewarding read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mandi Ehman

    This is a gripping memoir, and I read it in about 24 hours. The abuse, trauma and self-destruction Kathleen Burgin writes about is vivid and shocking. The struggle for me is that it all feels a bit disjointed. It’s storytelling without a resolution. I want to know how she moved from one phase of her life to the next, how she became an author, why she cut off ties with her whole family, etc. I’m not looking for a happy ending necessarily but just some type of closure on the story!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    This book reads like a diary. The narrative is choppy and all over the place, but the story remains intact. By the end I was enjoying it, but for a good portion I was just annoyed.I The implication that the Catholic church allowed or even endorsed many of the so-called "leaders," like the author's father is repugnant. It's an interesting memoir, but flawed in execution. This book reads like a diary. The narrative is choppy and all over the place, but the story remains intact. By the end I was enjoying it, but for a good portion I was just annoyed.I The implication that the Catholic church allowed or even endorsed many of the so-called "leaders," like the author's father is repugnant. It's an interesting memoir, but flawed in execution.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gehayi

    Lacks coherence and cohesiveness. The book starts with a one-dimensional family of supposed Catholics (I say "supposed" because they read like a Protestant's concept of Roman Catholicism and they make a great deal of fuss about speaking in tongues, which is primarily the focus of Protestant fundamentalists, not Catholics): an abusive father, a refrigerator mother who enables the father's abuse, and sisters so lacking in personality as to be interchangeable. After a while, the book jumps to Orang Lacks coherence and cohesiveness. The book starts with a one-dimensional family of supposed Catholics (I say "supposed" because they read like a Protestant's concept of Roman Catholicism and they make a great deal of fuss about speaking in tongues, which is primarily the focus of Protestant fundamentalists, not Catholics): an abusive father, a refrigerator mother who enables the father's abuse, and sisters so lacking in personality as to be interchangeable. After a while, the book jumps to Orange is the New Black as Kathleen suffers from eating disorders and gets involved with a drug dealer. Finally, and most improbably of all, Kathleen goes to Madonna House out in the Canadian woods--which, again, seemed far more Protestant than Catholic--and somehow overcomes her numerous psychological problems simply by learning to eat regularly (because eating disorders are just that easy to overcome) and by observing another angry woman. Oh, and her father tracks her down to Madonna House and orders her to come home. Kathleen defies him and says no. There are no consequences for this. I had to wonder why he would want Kathleen back at the family homestead when he nearly shot her to death when she was a child. The entire book is like that. Kathleen has no insights about herself or her parents; events merely happen randomly. The characters are as flat as paper dolls. In fact, they are more tropes than people. ( Archnemesis Dad . Big Sister Bully . Parental Neglect .) And so on. Moreover, there are enough plotholes to drive a convoy of Mack trucks through. The father shoots a horse and fires a trainer with no consequences whatsoever, and there is no explanation for this. Kathleen commits identity theft and is caught...and somehow manages to sidestep prison, though it's not explained how. (This makes little sense, as the sister who likes Kathleen least is the one whose identity Kathleen steals, and Mary would certainly be hearing from creditors about debts that her thieving sister had incurred in Mary's name.) There's a paper trail a mile wide, but Kathleen is not punished for her misdeeds. Most of all, I could not understand why someone whose life had been made a misery because of the alleged religious beliefs of two dictatorial men would move to a cult-like halfway house in the middle of the Canadian wilderness...and why she would stay there for more than two seconds, because all of the work was either creepy (going down into an unlit root cellar) or worthless (washing booger-filled cloth handkerchiefs by hand instead of using washing machines). Nor is there an explanation for how her father discovered that Kathleen was at Madonna House, especially since she had had no contact with him or the rest of her blood relatives for years. All in all, the book reads like an incomplete first draft.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dayanara Ryelle

    I'm torn on how to rate this. At a little over halfway, I have a good grip on the nature of this book, but I still don't know how I feel about it. I suspect I'll come away with the same feelings as I did after watching Whiplash--it will be the very best and the very worst of books. (And I won't want to read it ever again!) If you read the description hoping for something in the way of A Child Called It, you definitely have the right book. (Conversely, if ACCI made you want to kill someone, don't I'm torn on how to rate this. At a little over halfway, I have a good grip on the nature of this book, but I still don't know how I feel about it. I suspect I'll come away with the same feelings as I did after watching Whiplash--it will be the very best and the very worst of books. (And I won't want to read it ever again!) If you read the description hoping for something in the way of A Child Called It, you definitely have the right book. (Conversely, if ACCI made you want to kill someone, don't read WU.) I've been relaying bits of the story to a friend of mine, and I think this section sums it up rather nicely: (view spoiler)[[Keele's] father slapped her so hard that she landed in Lake Powell. She swam to shore, he announced he was going to kill her and forced her on a death march. He loaded the .45, missed both times, and then decided that was enough and took her back to the rest of the family. (hide spoiler)] I may have more to say after the back half of the book (like expecting a little more from the Servants of Light in terms of cultishness); but for now, I'm just happy the author got out. ~*~My copy is from Amazon's Kindle First program for the month of March 2019~*~

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shelli

    Not only did I not finish this book, I didn't even start it, but I'm leaving this here for other people who would also want to know about the following warning: Although the author and I call the same place home (and she lives [lived?] in the coolest house in town), I have been warned that there is at least one scene of horrible, horrible animal abuse in this book, which is a huge freak-out trigger for me, and I know for others as well. I'm disappointed I won't be able to read Keele's story, but Not only did I not finish this book, I didn't even start it, but I'm leaving this here for other people who would also want to know about the following warning: Although the author and I call the same place home (and she lives [lived?] in the coolest house in town), I have been warned that there is at least one scene of horrible, horrible animal abuse in this book, which is a huge freak-out trigger for me, and I know for others as well. I'm disappointed I won't be able to read Keele's story, but the trade-off is not worth it to me. Thanks to the folks in the Reader Q&A section who confirmed the disturbing content, and to the reviewer who referenced it enough to tip me off that I should definitely get a confirmation before I attempted to read it. I'm pretty sure I dodged a bullet. ADDENDUM: If you are one of my fellow animal hypersensitives, DO NOT READ THE ANSWERS TO MY READER Q&A QUESTION, mentioned above. One responder took it upon herself to actually detail the animal abuse for us. I reported to Goodreads asking for help, but I don't know if it's technicall against their terms of use to be overtly cruel to people? Just… don't read the long, second answer. Probably don't even let it in your field of vision.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kellie

    Honest I appreciate the author’s willingness to share her story. She endured pain and abuse that many people cannot even imagine and that too many others don’t have to imagine. I am filled with admiration that she has been able to build a life that has transcended the choices of those who would not keep her safe. Her writing has an abbreviated tautness to it that underscores the jagged edges of her memories. The storytelling was coherent, with a lot of lovely use of language and description. That Honest I appreciate the author’s willingness to share her story. She endured pain and abuse that many people cannot even imagine and that too many others don’t have to imagine. I am filled with admiration that she has been able to build a life that has transcended the choices of those who would not keep her safe. Her writing has an abbreviated tautness to it that underscores the jagged edges of her memories. The storytelling was coherent, with a lot of lovely use of language and description. That being said, there is a kind of flatness to the narrative, not necessarily in a bad way, but in a way that reminded me of someone telling a story while under the influence of a truth serum or something. This was not an easy story to tell, and the need to get it out of her did not solve that problem. Her pain is still evident in every word. The change in tone in the final acknowledgements was a good resolution for me; I appreciated a softer, realer understanding of the person she is now. I hope she keeps writing, especially with her stated aim of helping and empowering women. That is just a good thing and the world needs all the goodness it can get.

  17. 4 out of 5

    kglibrarian (Karin Greenberg)

    It's hard to imagine going through what Burgin did and being able to reflect on it as beautifully as she does. Her memoir is difficult to read at times, but the shocking details highlight the importance of remembering that people may be going through unimaginable pain even when they appear to be functioning normally. Burgin recounts her childhood as the daughter of a powerful evangelical preacher who controls his wife and children. For unexplained reasons, he abuses Keele more than any of her sib It's hard to imagine going through what Burgin did and being able to reflect on it as beautifully as she does. Her memoir is difficult to read at times, but the shocking details highlight the importance of remembering that people may be going through unimaginable pain even when they appear to be functioning normally. Burgin recounts her childhood as the daughter of a powerful evangelical preacher who controls his wife and children. For unexplained reasons, he abuses Keele more than any of her siblings. It is heartbreaking to read about what she had to endure as an innocent little girl, who was deprived of a safe feeling as she tried to get through the normal trials of childhood. Her father not only brutally beats her physically, but then glosses over his abhorrent behavior by choosing to act like a typical father at times. It is sickening to see how her mother witnessed this pattern and did nothing to stop it. All throughout her childhood, Keele desperately attempts to supress her feelings of resentment and anger, hoping that she can out maneuver her father. But she is unable to tear away from his destructive grip. Once she leaves for college, she begins to process what she has been through and eventually cuts ties with her family. It's not an easy path to recovery, though, and she goes through even more hardship as she works to find herself. Burgin's writing is raw and vulnerable. She is blunt when giving the harsh details of her abuse, and at times, it's hard to read certain scenes. While I would have liked her to go into a little more depth about her relationship with her siblings and her reflections about her father's actions, I recognize that victims of this type of abuse often can't even process their traumatic memories themselves. I couldn't put this one down, and was rooting for her the whole time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    David Crow

    People who have not had a traumatic childhood don't understand the lasting impact it leaves. As I read Keele Burgin's book I remembered the trauma in my own childhood. I bled through the pages for her and knew that healing would be her life's greatest challenge. Most people who've been through what she experienced never heal. As with my own book, The Pale-Faced Lie, readers were very critical of my mistakes and what I left out. They don't understand the need to protect other's privacy. I was str People who have not had a traumatic childhood don't understand the lasting impact it leaves. As I read Keele Burgin's book I remembered the trauma in my own childhood. I bled through the pages for her and knew that healing would be her life's greatest challenge. Most people who've been through what she experienced never heal. As with my own book, The Pale-Faced Lie, readers were very critical of my mistakes and what I left out. They don't understand the need to protect other's privacy. I was struck by how readers decided that Keele skimmed over her own faults and how she got through her ordeal. You wrote passionately about her mistakes without sugar coating any of it. Keele and I came to the exact same conclusion: "I could not have written this book without going back to my childhood and doing the work to identify what happened and internalize what happened." These are powerful words with a powerful message for all of us who were damaged beyond comprehension by horrific parents. For those who have not been through this type of experience, you have no idea how hard it is to believe you are a good person, a person worthy of a happy life. And luckily you will never know. This is a brave, courageous book by a truly great writer and person. I cried for her until the end knowing how how hard she fought to get free of her demons. I highly recommend this book though it is not for the faint at heart. Keele's message will resonate long after you have finished. You will root for her and know that she is helping countless others by sharing her story, starting with me. Bravo Keele, I feel as though we have known each other always. Read this book, it will help you understand that childhood is a city we never leave. That is great if it was a good childhood but it is a life sentence if you have not.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Just.... wow This book was terribly wonderful. It is now on my top 5 list. The range of emptiness you can feel while reading this is unbelievable. There are no other words to describe it. There are times when you think the author can't suffer more, that there's no way she can go through more, especially by her family, and then the "more" slaps you in the face. Her grit and tenacity are paramount to her character and yet you see her fighting to be free and to feel loved; to not have to have so muc Just.... wow This book was terribly wonderful. It is now on my top 5 list. The range of emptiness you can feel while reading this is unbelievable. There are no other words to describe it. There are times when you think the author can't suffer more, that there's no way she can go through more, especially by her family, and then the "more" slaps you in the face. Her grit and tenacity are paramount to her character and yet you see her fighting to be free and to feel loved; to not have to have so much "grit". And then..... she spirals out of control. I feel this section so much in my heart. This was me.... I have been this person and it's scary. And you wake up one day and boom: section three of the book... this section has love, struggle, anger, release, relief, and finally self worth in some aspect. There is an amount of love in each word of this book in the way it is written. It is spectacular.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne Marie Leino

    This book provides a look at the reality of adverse childhood experiences and the negative impact on these children as they grow into adulthood. It is frustrating to watch the main character's descent into self-hatred and substance abuse. The author jumps from one scene to another without providing a transition at times. Overall, it is a decent read but difficult to get through as the decisions she makes allow her to continue wallowing in her addiction. Although I believe that addiction is a dis This book provides a look at the reality of adverse childhood experiences and the negative impact on these children as they grow into adulthood. It is frustrating to watch the main character's descent into self-hatred and substance abuse. The author jumps from one scene to another without providing a transition at times. Overall, it is a decent read but difficult to get through as the decisions she makes allow her to continue wallowing in her addiction. Although I believe that addiction is a disease, I felt much as I would feel watching a cancer victim refuse treatment and wallowing in the ensuing pain. Ultimately, she finds a way to recovery. Average read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Moony (Captain Mischief) MeowPoff

    It was a very interesting and at the same time, awful read? i mean, how her childhood was and what she had to endure through it, it was painful and i kind of had a knot in my stomach basically the whole read. Sometimes things was left unsaid and i wish bits and pieces were clearer, hence my 3 stars. But i'm glad she's doing better now. It was a very interesting and at the same time, awful read? i mean, how her childhood was and what she had to endure through it, it was painful and i kind of had a knot in my stomach basically the whole read. Sometimes things was left unsaid and i wish bits and pieces were clearer, hence my 3 stars. But i'm glad she's doing better now.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    More than a story of an abused daughter and her recovery, this tale seems to me a description of what can happen when a man mistakes his own desires as those of God. The book looks at both the harm that can be caused by religion when it is used to control and the good that it can do when the goal is healing aided by love and acceptance.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brianna Cole

    Amazing Perhaps the best written memoir I've read. It reads and flows as a novel. Its raw and unrelenting. You feel her pain and rejection and soar on her tumultuous journey right alongside her. This story unlocked so many memories I wish I didn't have from my own past. I only wish now that I could share a coffee with Keele and discuss just how worthy we truly are. Amazing Perhaps the best written memoir I've read. It reads and flows as a novel. Its raw and unrelenting. You feel her pain and rejection and soar on her tumultuous journey right alongside her. This story unlocked so many memories I wish I didn't have from my own past. I only wish now that I could share a coffee with Keele and discuss just how worthy we truly are.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Evie

    This is a very hard story to listen to. Trigger warnings all over the place. However, I am honored that Kathleen/Keele is willing to share her story with us, for those who have space to listen. I find it really hard to read critical reviews of a book like this; the author is fully entitled to withhold some of the answers to the "why" questions and some of the gaps in the timeline. For me, these omissions did not detract from the power of her story. It was worth reading just for one very powerful This is a very hard story to listen to. Trigger warnings all over the place. However, I am honored that Kathleen/Keele is willing to share her story with us, for those who have space to listen. I find it really hard to read critical reviews of a book like this; the author is fully entitled to withhold some of the answers to the "why" questions and some of the gaps in the timeline. For me, these omissions did not detract from the power of her story. It was worth reading just for one very powerful scene near the end of the book that isn't even directly about Kathleen. Such a beautiful, powerful, moving picture, and the conclusions that Kathleen makes about God from this encounter.. just wow.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Conchita

    Loved this story. Could not put it down.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    Not a bad read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alvaro

    Empowering Pain This book make my heart tremble, my memories flown and give me a sense of been, what a great and powerful story, with blessing reality that more than many are hiding painfully.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Janet Caschetta

    Heartbreaking and inspiring Kathleen childhood story had me wishing I could hug her and cry with her. Her journey to healing was filled with challenges but faith in herself triumphed in the end.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Jean

    Thought provoking This story was so real. The author told her story from survival to recovery and the many paths it took. She claimed the journey made her who she is today but I also believe it is because of who she already was inside that she made the journey at all.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Zibby Owens

    This book is a brutally raw memoir of a woman’s escape from an abusive father who was the head of a Catholic cult. It is equal parts shocking and inspiring because she ultimately escapes the cult to find herself in a year-long retreat of near-total silence. This experience inspired her own movement to empower other women to share their traumas and move on to better lives. This book was a tough read. Trigger warning: It deals with child abuse, rape, and neglect. Keele endured an unbelievably abus This book is a brutally raw memoir of a woman’s escape from an abusive father who was the head of a Catholic cult. It is equal parts shocking and inspiring because she ultimately escapes the cult to find herself in a year-long retreat of near-total silence. This experience inspired her own movement to empower other women to share their traumas and move on to better lives. This book was a tough read. Trigger warning: It deals with child abuse, rape, and neglect. Keele endured an unbelievably abusive childhood with a ruthless father and his seemingly inescapable cult. But I found it genuinely inspiring because Keele shared the most wounded parts of herself. She survived escaping the cult, but not before self-abuse and then hitting rock bottom. But from there, she went on to found her own organization to empower women through sharing their own stories. Though intense and very challenging to read, I was touched by Keele’s story and just how far she’s come. To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at: https://zibbyowens.com/transcript/kee...

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