Book Review: The Blood on My Hands by Shannon O'Leary

The Blood  on My Hands is Shannon O'Leary's memoir of growing up in Australia during the 1960s/70s.  It recounts the terrible domestic abuse that Shannon, her mother and brothers suffered at the hands of her father, a serial killer who suffered from a  multiple personality disorder.

Aside from the horrific acts of physical and mental cruelty that dominate this book, there is one other fact that stands out : the lack of help available to the family despite repeated appeals to doctors, police, the Church and relatives. Attitudes and laws have changed over the years, but it is still hard to believe that back then no one wanted to get involved and that the family was left to deal with the situation the best way they could.

The Blood on My Hands is not an easy book to read due to its subject matter and the uncomfortable feelings it evokes.  Often sickened by what I was reading, I set it aside a number of times but was drawn back to it hoping that the family's ordeal would end. It did, eventually, with the death of Shannon's father.

This review was difficult to write and as you can see I haven't gone into too much detail. I believe this book was written as a form of closure and I hope Shannon has achieved her aim, though I doubt she will ever be completely free of these memories.

Can I recommend you read this book? No, but it should be read, if only to acknowledge the courage it took for Shannon O'Leary to expose her childhood to the world and her part in her father's horrendous crimes. Simply told, this is a powerful story and one that I will never forget.

I received a free copy of this book from Book Publicity Services.

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