Joy Castro has written a riveting account of her childhood, growing up in the Jehovah’s Witness community. Many reviewers have commented that her description of this experience is accurate. Though I can not comment on that aspect of the book, I can say that I was struck by the humanity Ms. Castro expresses. Though the child abuse she suffered from her step-father was harrowing, we are given a full vision of the community in which she was raised. There is much sympathy and understanding for the values of the Witnesses, even as she explores the conditions that allowed the abuse to occur and to continue. I was struck by how similar the issues within this community were to the ones I experienced growing up in the 70’s. The similarities between the Witness community and the broader culture are as surprising as the differences. Certainly, the isolation that the children felt in school or from their own father who had left the church was a factor that allowed the abuse to go unnoticed. The belief that the father should be the undisputed head of the household also allowed the abuse to go unchallenged by the church. Though more pronounced in this community, the same issues existed and still exist elsewhere. This is a book of love, courage, and family, of betrayal and loyalty, and of hypocrisy and belief. It is not an easy read, but is a rewarding one.
Published by Kendall Dunkelberg
I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida. View more posts