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The Unbreakable Child: A Memoir About Forgiving the Unforgivable

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The Unbreakable Child: A Story About Forgiving the Unforgivable is a riveting journey inside the secretive underbelly of the St. Thomas/Saint Vincent Orphan Asylum in rural Kentucky. It is the first book in the United States to confront the institutionalized physical and emotional abuse suffered by countless orphans at the hands of Catholic clergy over these last decades. The Unbreakable Child: A Story About Forgiving the Unforgivable is a riveting journey inside the secretive underbelly of the St. Thomas/Saint Vincent Orphan Asylum in rural Kentucky. It is the first book in the United States to confront the institutionalized physical and emotional abuse suffered by countless orphans at the hands of Catholic clergy over these last decades. It also documents the historic United States lawsuit and first-ever settlement paid by Roman Catholic nuns in the United States as recompense for decades of brutal institutional abuse of the author, her sisters and forty-two other children. The Unbreakable Child offers hope, justice, and forgiveness.


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The Unbreakable Child: A Story About Forgiving the Unforgivable is a riveting journey inside the secretive underbelly of the St. Thomas/Saint Vincent Orphan Asylum in rural Kentucky. It is the first book in the United States to confront the institutionalized physical and emotional abuse suffered by countless orphans at the hands of Catholic clergy over these last decades. The Unbreakable Child: A Story About Forgiving the Unforgivable is a riveting journey inside the secretive underbelly of the St. Thomas/Saint Vincent Orphan Asylum in rural Kentucky. It is the first book in the United States to confront the institutionalized physical and emotional abuse suffered by countless orphans at the hands of Catholic clergy over these last decades. It also documents the historic United States lawsuit and first-ever settlement paid by Roman Catholic nuns in the United States as recompense for decades of brutal institutional abuse of the author, her sisters and forty-two other children. The Unbreakable Child offers hope, justice, and forgiveness.

30 review for The Unbreakable Child: A Memoir About Forgiving the Unforgivable

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan Ideus

    "How does one describe evil, and how does one explain the evils of those who wore the face of God, who cloaked evil with His Veil?" Kim Richardson has written a stunning story of abuse, heinous crimes against helpless children, and amazing triumph over those circumstances. It is a story which both broke my heart and showed me hope and what it means to be resilient and of strong character. Church should be a safe place and religious leaders should be models of caring and compassion. Schools and orp "How does one describe evil, and how does one explain the evils of those who wore the face of God, who cloaked evil with His Veil?" Kim Richardson has written a stunning story of abuse, heinous crimes against helpless children, and amazing triumph over those circumstances. It is a story which both broke my heart and showed me hope and what it means to be resilient and of strong character. Church should be a safe place and religious leaders should be models of caring and compassion. Schools and orphanages run by churches should be havens of safety and learning, not the hellish existence Richardson and so many others lived through. It boggles the mind that so many troubled abusive individuals were congregated into a single staff at one orphanage in rural Kentucky. This is not a story for the faint-hearted. The abuse descriptions are graphic, and all the more tragic given the age of the abused. Richardson's first clear memory of abuse was at age three. The story is told in a series of flashbacks superimposed over the present, most notably Richardson's deposition given to the Catholic attorneys in her lawsuit. It offers a strong contrast between the frightened, confused child who was abused and beaten for nonsensical offenses and the strong confident adult facing her fears. She was speaking out on behalf of herself, her sisters and other orphans who had endured the same cruelty and abuse. Imagine being told every day of your young life that you are useless, that you are evil. Imagine being forced to do menial labor and bloodying your own hands so the overseers would be convinced you'd worked hard, even being dosed with undocumented drugs. How can this be in a world where adults are supposed to be the nurturers, the caretakers? These children were not troublemakers—they simply had the misfortune to have been handed over by the state of Kentucky to the St. Thomas-St. Vincent Orphanage. "Orphan. Was there a more lonesome word in the lexicon?" Richardson reflected as an adult. Surely she and her fellow orphanage dwellers must have wondered. With not a single caring adult to advocate for them, to help them negotiate their hellish day-to-day existence, they absorbed horrific shocks to their physical, mental, and spiritual selves. It's a wonder any survived—some did not, and all had to bear lifelong scars. "One day I'm going to be that the rainbow at the end of that road and I will stretch across, disappear, and I will be in charge of my changes." At six years old, Richardson found a kernel of hope to which she clung. Ironically, perhaps, it was a rainbow, a symbol of God's hope and promise in the Bible. Not only did Richardson survive, she fought back. She found a dedicated, compassionate attorney who would help her expose the horrors and file a lawsuit against the Church and the Sisters who had terrorized so many innocents. Bad days, bad memories—yes, they exist in her life, but the good far outweighs the bad. She found in attorney McMurry a man who "knew who wore the face of God." She has the "forever family" she always dreamed of in her loving and supportive husband and children. She cheated death to live victoriously. I would recommend this book to anyone who works with abused children or works with support groups for those who have been abused. This new edition, which includes the outcome of the lawsuit, as well as a new Readers' Guide, would make it a fine choice for book clubs. It is not an easy read, or one which I would term "enjoyable," but it is enlightening and encouraging. It is a story of triumph over great evil and against great odds. It will enrich your life.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Diane Yannick

    I’m not easily upset by memoirs but this one destroyed me. I had to read it in chunks. Having just discussed Book Woman of Troublesome Creek with my book club, I was hungry for more pieces of Kim. I saw a subtitle about forgiving the unforgivable and cavalierly jumped in. The abuse that Kim, her sisters and 42 others suffered at Saint Thomas-Saint Vincent Orphan Asylum is beyond comprehension, unless you lived it. Most of the abuse was by nuns in the 1960’s. If I tried to give examples of the ab I’m not easily upset by memoirs but this one destroyed me. I had to read it in chunks. Having just discussed Book Woman of Troublesome Creek with my book club, I was hungry for more pieces of Kim. I saw a subtitle about forgiving the unforgivable and cavalierly jumped in. The abuse that Kim, her sisters and 42 others suffered at Saint Thomas-Saint Vincent Orphan Asylum is beyond comprehension, unless you lived it. Most of the abuse was by nuns in the 1960’s. If I tried to give examples of the abuse, I would not be doing the book justice. It is the totality of the years of piled on abuse that gives you an inkling of her experience. How these nuns could treat these children with such sustained hatred boggles my mind. Yep, Kim shows remarkable resiliency as she creates her own family, but her scars must run very deep. This book is important because it’s the first time victims of the nuns’ abuse got monetary recompense. The amount is not important but the judgement surely was. There is one decision Kim made that I’ll never understand. Why oh why is she sending her own children to Catholic schools??

  3. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    "There were no hearts but the broken at Saint Thomas," says Kim Richardson in The Unbreakable Child. The victim of abuse at the hands of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth during her stay at St. Thomas St. Vincent Orphanage, Kim was involved in a lawsuit against the nuns at the same time that the abuses on children previously covered up by the Catholic church were making headlines. Kim and forty-four other orphans who lived at the orphanage were granted the very first monetary settlement ever pa "There were no hearts but the broken at Saint Thomas," says Kim Richardson in The Unbreakable Child. The victim of abuse at the hands of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth during her stay at St. Thomas St. Vincent Orphanage, Kim was involved in a lawsuit against the nuns at the same time that the abuses on children previously covered up by the Catholic church were making headlines. Kim and forty-four other orphans who lived at the orphanage were granted the very first monetary settlement ever paid by the Catholic church in the United States. This book flip-flops between Kim's experiences during the legal proceedings involved in her lawsuit and her experiences in the 1960s during her stay at the orphanage. She details her day-to-day life in the orphanage, which was filled with chores, studies, and the constant fear of the nuns and the orphanage's resident priest. At first the abuse written down on these pages is extreme. After a few chapters, it's easy to see this was commonplace at the orphanage. Kim's recollections are mostly clear and consistent, as the abuse doled out by the nuns took on a familiar pattern depending on which nun was involved and the apparent offense committed. Kim was under 10 during her stay at the orphanage; her first memory is apparently of her at age three or so, and is vague but still no less disturbing. She lived in the orphanage with her sisters, though she only saw them in passing and during mealtimes, and her life was complicated by the fact that she was not truly an orphaned child - her mother was alive but deemed unfit by the state of Kentucky to raise the children. The only adult who took an interest in her welfare was a social worker, whom Kim clung to as a mother figure. I found this book very haunting. Any skepticism I had when I first began reading was, for the most part, eliminated by the consistency of the stories, as well as the fact that other victims of this orphanage are alive and were able to collect in the suit, presumably with similar stories to tell. My only criticism was the dialogue, both in Kim's childhood memories and her present-day conversations. I simply found it unbelievable that everyone was talking as she wrote them, particularly the children. I'd guess she just doesn't have a good memory for the spoken word (I'm the same way, and never recall a conversation exactly word-for-word), but I believe she got the gist of what was said across. It's a small thing, though. Obviously Kim is still hurting from her abuses. Anyone would. I do think she could benefit from someone to talk to; she never even told her husband what she went through, until, presumably, this book was printed. I got the feeling she could really use a therapist. She lashes out at her attorney when he suggests it, but she's kept everything bottled up inside for so long that just writing her demons into paper can't be enough for her to deal with them. I hope she can find the peace she needs and deserves.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shari Ring Wolf

    I am appalled at some of the reviews I include reading the lower star reviews before I invest the time reading a book. This book had several reviews doubting the intensity and frequency of the abuse many orphans suffered in the late 50's/early 60's. One person had the arrogance to write that there was regulation that would have made it impossible. My husband survived living in orphanages during that era. When he talks about the things done to him and what he did to survive? I can easier handle hi I am appalled at some of the reviews I include reading the lower star reviews before I invest the time reading a book. This book had several reviews doubting the intensity and frequency of the abuse many orphans suffered in the late 50's/early 60's. One person had the arrogance to write that there was regulation that would have made it impossible. My husband survived living in orphanages during that era. When he talks about the things done to him and what he did to survive? I can easier handle his stories about the jungle in Viet Nam. Barely. Social workers came to the orphanages once a year, and the orphanage personnel was always outside the door. Even today, I know as a retired social worker that there is not enough money out into programs for children without parents. There are people who take in kids for the money. Some care, some don't. Workers can't be overly picky when there simply aren't enough foster families. This book had content that was too difficult for some people to look at. I guess we can desensitize by calling the victims liars. That being said, the book did focus on retelling the traumatic abuse stories over and over, which made the story not as good as it could have been. Not an easy read. Yet thousands of orphans lived through it. If we aren't willing to take a hard look at what is really happening, regulation will always be something someone else is seeing to.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alexa

    Man when I get on a non-fiction kick, I read some strange books lol. This was thrown up in my recommends after finishing Mommie Dearest via Kindle Unlimited. I saw the writing in chapter one was pretty good, so I gave it a go. It's a harrowing memoir of childhood abuse at the hands of Catholic nuns in an orphanage in Kentucky in the 60s... and the only reason I know it was the 60s is literally at the END of the book in the lawyer's afterward it finally said so. Which brings me to my primary issue Man when I get on a non-fiction kick, I read some strange books lol. This was thrown up in my recommends after finishing Mommie Dearest via Kindle Unlimited. I saw the writing in chapter one was pretty good, so I gave it a go. It's a harrowing memoir of childhood abuse at the hands of Catholic nuns in an orphanage in Kentucky in the 60s... and the only reason I know it was the 60s is literally at the END of the book in the lawyer's afterward it finally said so. Which brings me to my primary issue, and why it has to be 3 stars for me. You can tell the book is self-published. Not by any fault of the writing, which is above average, but in the content organization and structure. This needed a professional editor or maybe a ghostwriter to help? Not that the book is bad. It's not... but it feels narratively incomplete and at times was confusing, as well as repetitive. I couldn't tell when anything was happening, thus I was missing what feels like essential context. Because I wasn't anchored in the exact timing of the past, I was also fuzzy on the timing of the present--the book jumps back and forth between the lawsuit with the church and the past. I ended up having problems there, too--that's actually where a pro editor was most needed. Being super recent and very emotionally taxing, the "present" sections with the deposition raised more questions than they answered; yes we got some upsetting descriptions of mean lawyers but rarely did we get to "hear" Ms. Richardson's responses, and the book failed to weave the present with the past in a satisfying narrative manner the way I'd expect a trad pubbed book to. (Meaning if this were trad pubbed it would have been run through a few editorial passes with additional material and more narrative transitions) Similarly I felt unmoored, re: HOW Richardson managed to turn into a functional adult, about the mechanics of her life in the present, beyond loving her husband a lot. The nuns called her a racial slur (related to Native Americans) and I NEVER KNEW WHY--why on EARTH wasn't that context in the book? When Kim apparently goes to live with a family for a few months and I was very confused b/c she told us, the reader, it was only for a weekend? I was just confused A LOT. And then it was just repetitive or had lots of superfluous detail. Didn't need the story about the random dead cat, or the thing with Regina knocking the cookie out of her hand, or the repetitive stories, re: vomiting oatmeal. These are the things a pro editor would develop with the writer. Just feels like a loss for the reader. The book relies heavily on lots and lots and lots of super descriptive recountings of horrific abuse. I realize there's a whole subgenre particularly in indie publishing where readers love this, but I don't read for the titillation of the abuse... I want the context too. The arc of the story. Historical and social analysis. Because the narrative balance was off, it just made for a one note reading experience. I also couldn't help but wear thin on the juvenile tone of the majority of the book--it's a LOT being in the "head" of a desperate 7-year-old for so long... but the narrative also didn't seem to age? 9-year-old Kim felt as juvenile as 7-year-old Kim which struck me as odd--I remember being 9/10 as a HUGE leap in maturity? I did wonder more than once how on earth 50-something Kim could possibly so vividly recall precisely everything that happened and exactly how she felt/thought/reacted--I barely remember my childhood and I'm in my 30s; while I do believe abuse will crystallize a lot of moments for people, it still beggared belief at times. Not that it happened--I wholeheartedly believe every story--but some of the artifices of the narrative (textural details, etc.) felt too good to be true. Again where a strong co-writer or ghostwriter or editor could have helped. Ultimately, this book couldn't be what I wanted it to be, which isn't it's fault, but also means I'm not going to rate it on par with books I find more narratively satisfying. I couldn't help but imagine a version of the book that had a broader, journalistic approach. Actually including recollections from Kim's sister, for one--how did SHE perceive the things that happened to Kim? Reflections on her own horrific abuse? Interview other survivors--40 of whom did the lawsuit together! More historical context, re: the orphanage, it shutting down, the nuns, etc. Some memoirs do achieve this kind of scope and focus; but this just isn't one of them and that's ok. THAT SAID if all you want is a harrowing first person account of horrific abuse by nuns and don't mind the present stuff that doesn't do a whole lot, honestly it's vividly well written. It's also a short, fast read (but that was part of my issue lol).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Juanita

    Review: The Unbreakable Child by Kim Michele Richardson. This is a disturbing true story of abuse to children in a Catholic orphanage in Kentucky. The story is narrated by a victim who spent nine years confined to the orphanage with her three sisters. It’s also the story of a lawsuit brought against the order of nuns who ran the orphanage. Her attorney, William McMurray an advocate for abused children, and herself wanted justice for the other forty-five other victims. Richardson explains her abus Review: The Unbreakable Child by Kim Michele Richardson. This is a disturbing true story of abuse to children in a Catholic orphanage in Kentucky. The story is narrated by a victim who spent nine years confined to the orphanage with her three sisters. It’s also the story of a lawsuit brought against the order of nuns who ran the orphanage. Her attorney, William McMurray an advocate for abused children, and herself wanted justice for the other forty-five other victims. Richardson explains her abuses and how society, the Church, and even her own family had abandoned her at a very young age. She was the youngest of the four sisters who were residing at the orphanage. The story will break your heart but you’ll also read how Kimmi Richardson’s strength and determination brings forth her forgiveness as an adult. Most important is the courage she showed in exposing the sadistic side of the Catholic Church in its treatment of orphans. The story is told at the time of Kim’s disposition hearing at court many years after the abuse. The story goes back and forth through past to present as she tells her story beginning at the age of three. Kimmi and her three sisters were removed from their mother, Diane, a drug addicted alcoholic and neglecting parent and placed at the orphanage and later subjected to horrific abuse and child molestation. I was not an orphan but I had spent eight years at a Catholic school back in the sixties (about the same time as Kim and her sisters) and through those years there was abuse from the hands of the nuns and a Monsignor of the Church. For some reason my eight siblings who were also abused were stronger than I was but I do know their behavior was shone within different characteristic as, being a class clown, being tough, and being a bully, etc…where I hid within myself. I even stop talking for two of those years also due to having both parent alcoholics and trying to survive living in a dysfunctional family. I applaud Kim Richardson for reaching out to an attorney years later to find justice for herself, her sister’s and all the many children who were abused in the same fashion under the care of the nuns and the Catholic Church. Kim Richardson could have taken the path of a victim, but instead after she left the orphanage she struggled but faced her fears and later married and had two children that she sent to a Catholic school. Kim Richardson was a great parent even with the scars from her past that will never be forgotten….

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    After I read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek I had to read more about Kim Michele Richardson. She spent almost a decade in a Roman Catholic orphanage in rural Kentucky along with her three sisters. Her mother was declared unfit by the state and she and her three older sisters were removed from their home. It is a sad story that deals with physical, emotional and sexual abuse by the nuns running the orphanage and one priest. There are really two stories in the book—one that deals with the clas After I read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek I had to read more about Kim Michele Richardson. She spent almost a decade in a Roman Catholic orphanage in rural Kentucky along with her three sisters. Her mother was declared unfit by the state and she and her three older sisters were removed from their home. It is a sad story that deals with physical, emotional and sexual abuse by the nuns running the orphanage and one priest. There are really two stories in the book—one that deals with the class action lawsuit she filed on behalf of 44 other victims. It is the first-ever settlement paid by the Roman Catholic nuns in the United States as compensation for years of institutional abuse. In order to help her get through the lawsuit. Richardson started writing about her childhood. When the lawsuit was finished, she gave the manuscript to her attorney William F. McMurray as a gift for standing up for those who were silenced for so many years. And that’s the other part of the book. Sadly it describes some of the most horrid incidences imaginable. The phrase that kept coming up in the book was “Who wears the face of God?” How could these people who represented the church claim to wear it? She says only the innocent child could wear the face of God. And maybe even the attorney who took on this case. It’s hard to believe that Richardson survived all this abuse. It’s also hard to believe that she didn’t reveal this to her husband until she started the lawsuit, at which point they were married about 17 years. It is also surprising that she has remained a woman of faith after all she has been through. The book reads more like a journal or diary, flows easily, and is worth reading. Its redemptive quality is that she survived, and she continues to work for the those abused by clergy. I am always amazed at how some people can rise above abuses such as those she endured, and others simply give up living through destructive. There is no easy answer.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Unbreakable Child will rip your heart out of your chest and dangle it in front of you. You’ll ignore that minor inconvenience, because your eyes won’t move from the pages of Kim Richardson’s debut memoir. This is the story of Richardson’s nine years in a Kentucky orphanage. At the same time, it’s the story of the lawsuit brought against the order of nuns who ran the orphanage by Richardson and forty-four other former orphans. You know those sensational stories splashed across the newspapers The Unbreakable Child will rip your heart out of your chest and dangle it in front of you. You’ll ignore that minor inconvenience, because your eyes won’t move from the pages of Kim Richardson’s debut memoir. This is the story of Richardson’s nine years in a Kentucky orphanage. At the same time, it’s the story of the lawsuit brought against the order of nuns who ran the orphanage by Richardson and forty-four other former orphans. You know those sensational stories splashed across the newspapers and leading the nightly news? The ones about priests and nuns abusing and molesting children? Kim lived it. Kim and her three older sisters were taken from their neglectful mother when Kim was a toddler. The beatings started soon after and didn’t stop until the girls’ mother was granted custody again nine years later. There were bright spots—the gardener’s flowers and homemade cookies, the friendships, the visits from the mostly ineffectual social worker. But the brightest spot was perhaps the death of Kim’s main abuser. Interspersed with the story of Kim’s childhood is the story of the lawsuit. Forty-five regular people against the might of the Church might seem too daunting to attempt. But one lawyer took on the task, and won. Kim’s struggle against high-powered lawyers mirrors her indomitable spirit struggling against years of abuse. Kim came out the victor both times. The end of this book, with Kim loved by her husband and children, is a testament to hope and strength. The Unbreakable Child isn’t a fluffy beach read, but it’s worth every page.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    I recently read her former NYT bestseller for a book club. Prepping for my group, I realized there isn't a ton of info regarding her birth and such. I was intrigued so I grabbed her memoir. I give her a lot of credit for her honesty and strength. A a Catholic (technically, I guess) the abuse didn't surprise me. Her finding a way out of it and the lawyer who helped give voice to the countless voiceless children did. There are a LOT of triggers warnings with this book. Read the flap and make the c I recently read her former NYT bestseller for a book club. Prepping for my group, I realized there isn't a ton of info regarding her birth and such. I was intrigued so I grabbed her memoir. I give her a lot of credit for her honesty and strength. A a Catholic (technically, I guess) the abuse didn't surprise me. Her finding a way out of it and the lawyer who helped give voice to the countless voiceless children did. There are a LOT of triggers warnings with this book. Read the flap and make the choice for yourself.

  10. 4 out of 5

    OjoAusana

    This was a.... Hard read to put it simply. The abuse retold in this is not, as graphic as other books ive read but still, you can only sugar-coat abuse enough. This book was perosnally a hard read as well, but overall im happy i read it, very powerful book about people's lives and stories. This was a.... Hard read to put it simply. The abuse retold in this is not, as graphic as other books ive read but still, you can only sugar-coat abuse enough. This book was perosnally a hard read as well, but overall im happy i read it, very powerful book about people's lives and stories.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    It is hard to believe how a girl and many other children endured a horrible abuse at the hands of nuns who instead of showing, not necessarily love, but at least compassion, were vicious in dealing with defenseless orphans. But this is a story that one hears every so often, about not only orphanages but private schools as well. Fortunately the author survived and exposed her sad experience to the world.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sara Gabai

    an autobiography of unspeakable terror. a young child (and her sisters) are sent to a Catholic orphanage. what happened there, how Kim survived. a very hard book to read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Extremely heavy re: abuse of all forms in children at the hands of the Catholic Church. I adored this memoir. Was left wanted a little more from the legal process side of things as well as the in-between years.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Raquel

    It takes strength and courage to share your story with others and I applaud Kim Michele for being brave enough to share & strong enough to build a new life for herself. I believe that if I were to meet the author in real life, we could be very close friends!

  15. 5 out of 5

    justablondemoment

    As my major in college was social work, I have read a lot of these types of books and find the stories of courage to be of great value to all that read them. Having been raised in a warm loving family with all my needs met and very little wants denied, it is hard to read abuse victims' tales without shedding a tear or two. This book was not one of them. It is not the story; it was the way it was written that just didn't move me the way these types of books should. They should leave you with a fe As my major in college was social work, I have read a lot of these types of books and find the stories of courage to be of great value to all that read them. Having been raised in a warm loving family with all my needs met and very little wants denied, it is hard to read abuse victims' tales without shedding a tear or two. This book was not one of them. It is not the story; it was the way it was written that just didn't move me the way these types of books should. They should leave you with a feeling of wanting to save, to change a life in whatever way you can so that it will not continue. Books of this subject should enrage you, stroke a savior passion in you. It fell flat for me. I do admire the author for letting it out. This is the key to healing and hence, gets full respect from me for that. Nevertheless, there were much better ways of doing this and would have been way more effective. For instance, her clear account of things happening at the age of three were unbelievable as I don't remember things at three. She makes it more unbelievable because all through the book she let's us know that there were no pictures (other than two) and no documents except a very small file. So where did she draw her very clear details from? She just never lets us know HOW some of the memories and details are there to write down. Did she keep a journal? No, she wasn't allowed things of that nature. Was she in therapy after she left? She doesn't say. Just, a lot of questions for me that come away unanswered. Courage gets a 5-plus star...but filling me with outrage naww would have been better left to a professional writer who could guide her through it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Kim Richardson's memoir of her harrowing experiences in a Catholic orphanage, as well as her work on behalf of her fellow victims, is chronicled in this book. Not always an easy read as Richardson recalls the physical and sexual abuse she endured at the hands of clergymen and nuns, this is nevertheless an important book. Since 1922, the Roman Catholic Church's policy has been to move those accused of child abuse and/or molestation to a different area (this is known as a pontifical secret, which m Kim Richardson's memoir of her harrowing experiences in a Catholic orphanage, as well as her work on behalf of her fellow victims, is chronicled in this book. Not always an easy read as Richardson recalls the physical and sexual abuse she endured at the hands of clergymen and nuns, this is nevertheless an important book. Since 1922, the Roman Catholic Church's policy has been to move those accused of child abuse and/or molestation to a different area (this is known as a pontifical secret, which meant that revealing the information made the teller subject to ecclesiastical punishment). As with the well-known abuses of the Magadelene Laundries, the problem was wide-spread within the orphanages. I applaud Richardson's bravery in telling her story, particularly in how the abuses have affected her far into adulthood. Bringing these matters into the light is the only way that they will be stopped.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    This book is the 3rd one I've read by Kim. I wanted to read her memoir because I wanted to understand the writer behind The Book Woman. What a horrifying childhood she experienced, but what an incredible story of survival and redemption. The 3 stars are because while her story was compelling, her writing was not. It was very unpolished and read more like a journal than a published memoir. I don't blame Kim for this, as she was processing deeply traumatic events. I think her editor let her down o This book is the 3rd one I've read by Kim. I wanted to read her memoir because I wanted to understand the writer behind The Book Woman. What a horrifying childhood she experienced, but what an incredible story of survival and redemption. The 3 stars are because while her story was compelling, her writing was not. It was very unpolished and read more like a journal than a published memoir. I don't blame Kim for this, as she was processing deeply traumatic events. I think her editor let her down on this one, because it had the potential to be another Glass Castle.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Eaker

    This book was a roller coaster of emotions, very powerful and gut wrenching.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Edes

    There are no words...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andy Berger

    After thoroughly enjoying The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, I was incredibly disappointed by this one. This is an important story that needs to be told, but it's told inartfully and inconsistently and it's very, very poorly written. There are tiny, tiny glimpses of the brilliance of Book Woman, but they are very few and very far between. My quibbles: -Major characters are described one way and then described in the exact opposite way. And this isn't even in the flashback scenes; there are inc After thoroughly enjoying The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, I was incredibly disappointed by this one. This is an important story that needs to be told, but it's told inartfully and inconsistently and it's very, very poorly written. There are tiny, tiny glimpses of the brilliance of Book Woman, but they are very few and very far between. My quibbles: -Major characters are described one way and then described in the exact opposite way. And this isn't even in the flashback scenes; there are inconsistencies in the present-day narration. -Odd and unnecessary details are focused on. -The physical abuse is described in horrific detail, but the sexual abuse is just lightly alluded to. I think it's fine not to go into that detail, but if you're not going to, don't even bother with coy mentions of "the priest unzipped his pants" or "privates." -There are literally half a dozen chapters that feel like the final chapter. This thing just drags on unnecessarily for several chapters. I could go on, and I'm really only harping on this because of how much I enjoyed Richardson's other work. She's brave to share this story, but I wish she had spent a little more time with it. At one point in the story, she talks about seeing a ghost as though it actually happened. "Oh, come on!" I thought as I read, but then she goes on to speculate that it was perhaps a manifestation of trauma. That's the only place in this whole book where she tries to dig beneath the surface. I wish she had done more of that.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christi

    Wow... There have been few things in my life that have rendered me speechless, but I must say The Unbreakable Child left me wordless. I knew from just reading the synapsis that this was going to be a tough read, but I never in my wildest nightmares could've imagined this. To think that so many children have had to endure such tortures breaks my mama heart to the core. I too have been affected by physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in my life, but I was older, and did have the opportunity to atte Wow... There have been few things in my life that have rendered me speechless, but I must say The Unbreakable Child left me wordless. I knew from just reading the synapsis that this was going to be a tough read, but I never in my wildest nightmares could've imagined this. To think that so many children have had to endure such tortures breaks my mama heart to the core. I too have been affected by physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in my life, but I was older, and did have the opportunity to attempt to fight for myself. Kim, and the many other orphans, didn't have that choice, this being their life, and all they knew. That and paired with the fact that the Roman Catholic Church continues to this day to hide sexual abuse, as well as other allegations of abuse, makes my blood boil! As a Christian, I can't see how any of this is possible. Thank you Kim for your unbelievable bravery and determination against all odds. You are truly an amazing woman with incredible strength and heart. My prayers are with you and all the victims that have had to endure such unimaginable torture. You are survivors and I know that TRUE justice will one day prevail. Though this book is incredibly difficult to read, I believe it is a story that must be heard, and recommend everyone read. It is a story that depicts the most inhumane torture on innocent children, but it also shows the strength, perseverance, and hope that one person can achieve, despite all odds, and that abuse that you have endured does not have to define your life.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Summer

    I gave up on this book about half-way through, because I didn't find the redemption portion (going to trial) compelling enough to wade through the shocking accounts of abuse. What happened to Kim Richardson was horrific and, in my opinion, very real. Unfortunately, I think that as she was writing this book, she was still working through her childhood trauma, and probably using her writing as a tool to help. The finished product is not a well-written piece of literature, but a collection of haphaz I gave up on this book about half-way through, because I didn't find the redemption portion (going to trial) compelling enough to wade through the shocking accounts of abuse. What happened to Kim Richardson was horrific and, in my opinion, very real. Unfortunately, I think that as she was writing this book, she was still working through her childhood trauma, and probably using her writing as a tool to help. The finished product is not a well-written piece of literature, but a collection of haphazard childhood memories, and Kim's personal thoughts through the trial against the orphanage as an adult. The childhood portions are clear, to the point that an explanation was warranted. The clarity of her childhood memories is astounding. I do not doubt that Kim suffered abuse, but I was astonished at her recounting dialog, sequential events, and her own thoughts from the age of three. The adult portions border on incoherent, and are very difficult to follow as Kim whiplashes between the range of emotions that stem from dredging up terrible memories, sometimes waxing philosophical about her feelings about God and church, others recounting unrelated bits about lawyers and questions. I think a co-author or a better editor would have greatly enhanced the story, making it more compelling and a better voice for the systematic abuse and neglect that was happening under the care of the Catholic church. Nonetheless, I applaud Kim for bravely telling her story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Asha Greye

    Suffer The Little Children The author, child of a wayward and unfit single mother in the late 1950s/early 1960s, was removed as an infant along with her sisters by the state of Kentucky and sent to the "safety" of a Catholic orphanage. The children weren't even Catholic initially, but somehow they ended up in a Catholic orphanage. We've probably all heard of the horrors of Catholic orphanages in countries like Ireland, but few would believe such abuse and torment could occur right here in the US Suffer The Little Children The author, child of a wayward and unfit single mother in the late 1950s/early 1960s, was removed as an infant along with her sisters by the state of Kentucky and sent to the "safety" of a Catholic orphanage. The children weren't even Catholic initially, but somehow they ended up in a Catholic orphanage. We've probably all heard of the horrors of Catholic orphanages in countries like Ireland, but few would believe such abuse and torment could occur right here in the US of A. Well the author is here to bring the truth to the light. Strenuous chores, only enough food to stay alive, pedophiles around every corner, and vicious beatings. The nun helping little Kim get dressed on the day of her First Holy Communion broke her arm and later that night beat her again for staining her dress. No medical attention, no concern whatsoever. And the orphanage was full of equally callous monsters who seemed to get their kicks out of tormenting the children left under their care. I'm surprised that the police haven't searched for bodies. The author survived, but was every child so lucky? Shocked doesn't describe my reaction to this book. You will run the full gamut of emotions when reading this story of unspeakable abuse and triumph. I definitely recommend.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    The Breakable Child This is a memoir depicting the childhood of the author. She has undertaken this painful experience of recalling her life in an orphanage in Anchorage, Kentucky (Sister of Charity Orphanage -St. Thomas/ St. Vincent Orphan Asylum) in order to shed light on the abuses there in the 1960s. From ages 3 to 10, she was emotionally, physically, and psychologically abused. Written about 4 decades later, with the help of her lawyer William McMurray, Kim and 44 other former plaintiffs brou The Breakable Child This is a memoir depicting the childhood of the author. She has undertaken this painful experience of recalling her life in an orphanage in Anchorage, Kentucky (Sister of Charity Orphanage -St. Thomas/ St. Vincent Orphan Asylum) in order to shed light on the abuses there in the 1960s. From ages 3 to 10, she was emotionally, physically, and psychologically abused. Written about 4 decades later, with the help of her lawyer William McMurray, Kim and 44 other former plaintiffs brought a civil lawsuit in 2004 to expose the injustices they faced under the care of the Catholic nuns in the orphanage. Her words powerfully depict the horrors and anguish she feels as she remembers and confronts the lawyers for the Cathoiic nuns. This is a powerful book that not only reveals the abuse during her childhood, but demonstrates the long time damage done to children who are separated from their family with no one to protect them. The child may try to forgive and forget, but the pain and damage impact their being and never heals. This is one of the most personal and emotional books I’ve ever read. Filled with horrific details & feelings of abandonment & abuse, this story should be a primer for those who think separating immigrant families from their parents is acceptable. Yes, some people are not good parents, but the foster homes and institutions where children are raised must have caring oversight. The good news here is that some children survive to tell the truth but are so damaged. They can forgive perhaps but will they ever forget?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    There are two things that upset me most 1) mistreatment and abuse of children and 2) mistreatment and abuse of animals. These are the innocents that should be protected and cared for. I discovered this book after finishing the author's Sisters of Glass Ferry and decided to read it, even knowing the subject matter. Everyone should read this book, if we have a hope of protecting children from such hideous abuse. I cannot imagine what kind of people these nuns were to even think up some of the puni There are two things that upset me most 1) mistreatment and abuse of children and 2) mistreatment and abuse of animals. These are the innocents that should be protected and cared for. I discovered this book after finishing the author's Sisters of Glass Ferry and decided to read it, even knowing the subject matter. Everyone should read this book, if we have a hope of protecting children from such hideous abuse. I cannot imagine what kind of people these nuns were to even think up some of the punishments for the orphans left in their care. It was very hard to read and I commend Ms. Richardson for sharing her story. I am glad that she was as strong as she is, and I'm thankful that she found the right attorney. I watched an interview Mr. McMurry did nearly 15 years later and could see how disturbed he was by the terrible treatment of the children in this orphanage. If I met Ms. Richardson, I would give her a big hug for speaking out. I'm glad she forged ahead with her own forever family and thank her for sharing one of the endearing expressions she and her husband came up with, which was also in Sisters of Glass Ferry. It made me smile after all the heinous events in this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    It was difficult to believe that this child abuse took place around 1960 because it seemed as if it would have been many, many years ago. It is also difficult to believe that people who had professed to be serving Jesus would commit such horrible deeds. Thank goodness the author switched back and forth in the book between her childhood and her time as an adult when she was working with her lawyer to speak out for herself, her sisters, and the other children who were abused in the orphanage. The It was difficult to believe that this child abuse took place around 1960 because it seemed as if it would have been many, many years ago. It is also difficult to believe that people who had professed to be serving Jesus would commit such horrible deeds. Thank goodness the author switched back and forth in the book between her childhood and her time as an adult when she was working with her lawyer to speak out for herself, her sisters, and the other children who were abused in the orphanage. The readers needed a break from all the abuse, but there was no escape from it for those abused children until they left the orphanage. How wonderful it is that the author has managed to find it in her heart to forgive the people who abused her and the other orphans and is able to appreciate the family she has now. Her book about the terrible situation of her own childhood may provide more help to others than she will ever know. It certainly should help most readers to appreciate their own childhoods and to be more aware of abuse today.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I'm so glad she shared her story of abuse in a Catholic orphanage. Such strength to do so. I bought this book in 2020 and put it back down after reading one chapter because the abuse was so heartbreaking. I decided to give it another go and I appreciated that she intersected the abuse chapters with flash-forwards to her adult life. It gives the reader a reprieve and a hope of her survival. I did find some of the scenes difficult to follow. For example, she's talking to Smokey the cat then the ca I'm so glad she shared her story of abuse in a Catholic orphanage. Such strength to do so. I bought this book in 2020 and put it back down after reading one chapter because the abuse was so heartbreaking. I decided to give it another go and I appreciated that she intersected the abuse chapters with flash-forwards to her adult life. It gives the reader a reprieve and a hope of her survival. I did find some of the scenes difficult to follow. For example, she's talking to Smokey the cat then the cat's owner announces he's dead. It must have been a separate event but it wasn't clear from the story. I wanted to know more about her sisters' abuse and she dropped some bread crumbs but stopped short of allowing the reader to follow their stories. I'm amazed at her perseverance to endure what she did and write the story of so many children in those homes. I pray they can experience the true love of Christ apart from the nonsense they were taught and the abuse they experienced at the hands of those evil souls.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dianna Kinkead

    Heartbreaking Story of Resilience I couldn't put this down. I have frequently worked with victims of child abuse during my career as a marriage and family therapist, and I've heard some heartbreaking stories, but the systematic orchestrated torture that Kim Richardson, her sisters and the other children in this Church Sanctioned Orphanage had to endure leaves me speechless. And angry at the dysfunctional system that knowingly protected the perpetrators while discounting the poor helpless little c Heartbreaking Story of Resilience I couldn't put this down. I have frequently worked with victims of child abuse during my career as a marriage and family therapist, and I've heard some heartbreaking stories, but the systematic orchestrated torture that Kim Richardson, her sisters and the other children in this Church Sanctioned Orphanage had to endure leaves me speechless. And angry at the dysfunctional system that knowingly protected the perpetrators while discounting the poor helpless little children who through no fault of their own found themselves the victims of such evil cruelty disguised as charity. Thank you Kim Richardson for having the courage to tell your story and to be a part of the solution by shining a light in the darkness. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:5 RSB

  29. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    4.5 stars.. an absolutely harrowing, heartbreaking and TRUE account of many childhoods lost. My dad went to Catholic school all throughout his primary grades and it was during this same time period. He has horror stories of his own, but I nvr knew details like this. Just that he converted to my mom's Christian religion and I've always been positive the roman Catholic Church was a "cult" for lack of a better term. When the sex abuse of young boys by priests came out in the late 90s/early 2000s it 4.5 stars.. an absolutely harrowing, heartbreaking and TRUE account of many childhoods lost. My dad went to Catholic school all throughout his primary grades and it was during this same time period. He has horror stories of his own, but I nvr knew details like this. Just that he converted to my mom's Christian religion and I've always been positive the roman Catholic Church was a "cult" for lack of a better term. When the sex abuse of young boys by priests came out in the late 90s/early 2000s it always seemed a bit of a "duh" moment for our family. Like soooo many before them, the catholics have used God as an excuse for their perversions, violence, and hatred. Above all else, jesus loves the little children. Fuck with them and you'll have hell to pay, come judgement day.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Last year I read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, and really liked it. When I saw this book, and that it was Ms. Richardson's story of her time in an orphanage, I had to read it. This is her story of the abuse she received at the hands of the Catholic nuns and priest that ran the Saint Thomas and Saint Vincent Orphanage in Anchorage, Kentucky. It is also the story of the litigation she brought against the order of nuns along with 44 other plaintiffs, decades later. How can I possibly say tha Last year I read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, and really liked it. When I saw this book, and that it was Ms. Richardson's story of her time in an orphanage, I had to read it. This is her story of the abuse she received at the hands of the Catholic nuns and priest that ran the Saint Thomas and Saint Vincent Orphanage in Anchorage, Kentucky. It is also the story of the litigation she brought against the order of nuns along with 44 other plaintiffs, decades later. How can I possibly say that I liked the book, other than I feel it is a book that needs to be read.

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