Hope: A Memoir of Survival, by Amanda Berry & Gina DeJesus

I’m crying and bleeding. I’ve been terrified he would do this. … I want to die. I try to cover myself with my clothes.

”’We gotta celebrate!’ he says, standing up and pulling his pants back on. ‘That was your first time!'”

And so it continues. Ten years of rape, abuse, torture and manipulation condensed into one book -two people’s stories – more than two lifetimes worth of misery. Hope combines the harrowing tale of Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus (assisted in the writing by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan), both held captive for over ten years by pervert, sadist, rapist and master manipulator Ariel Castro at his dilapidated Cleveland home.

I’m pretty sure we all remember this as a huge news story back in 2013, when the women escaped, but not until recently have the sordid details been made available to the public; perhaps because the two young women felt they were now ready to tell everything that happened, or perhaps they were in need of the money a book would bring. Whatever the reason, catharsis or cash, it’s not a bit of light bedtime reading. This book does not make you feel love towards your fellow man.

I do feel as though to criticise anything about this account would make me seem incredibly heartless and unfeeling, which I’m not (at least not all the time). When confronted with the actual horror of what these women endured, the rapes, mistreatment, pregnancies and forced miscarriages at the hands of a truly awful human being, really the only way to react is to get the unpleasantness of reading and digesting such a recollection out of the way as quickly as possible, feel disgust and some kind of existentialist despair about the horrors of life and then try to forget that you ever actually read such a thing and that it wasn’t a work of fiction. It doesn’t seem right for me to mention the never-ending use of the oxford comma, or the disconcerting disconnect I experienced reading two women’s account of the same events (although, I can’t resist moaning just a little bit; it’s in my nature, much like being a sociopathic sexual predator was in Ariel Castro’s.)

Hope: A Memoir of Survival is what it is; nightmare from cover to cover. Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus deserve to make some money out of their misery, so even if you don’t think Hope sound like your cup of tea, buy it anyway and hide it under your bed, lest it give you nightmares.

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TITLE: Hope: A Memoir of Survival
AUTHOR(S): Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House
RRP: $37.99
ISBN: 9780593075159

Chelsea Lee is a twenty-something university dropout. She has a penchant for 80s synth pop. She lives, reluctantly, in Auckland and enjoys the works of miserable existentialists and misanthropes.

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