If you were raised in a family with an angry father, this book will be very difficult to read. If you and your siblings have shuddered in bed, wondering if tonight was the night he was going to kill your mother, this book may be unbearable.
Bouman shares the story of being the son of a violent father. He writes about the erratic behavior, the increasing violence, the obsession with things military, the gun range, the war games, the nazi salutes, getting the M19, the beatings, pitting the brothers against each other, the summer on a reclaimed boat, and much more. It was hard to absorb the father screaming about what an idiot his son was. It was almost impossible to read of the fear Bouman experienced when he accidentally fired his shotgun at a boat his dad was restoring. It was excruciating to read about the beatings his mother received. It was haunting to read about Bouman being terrified that he may become like his father. It was so hard to read about all the pain – almost overwhelming.
There are some funny times, like Bouman's dad running the tank right up onto his friend's brand new car and blasting stumps with dynamite only to have a big piece of stump pierce the roof of their home just missing the sofa and the lady falling through the hole in their home's floor. But even those funny parts were sad in a very real way.
While it may be a hard book to read, as it was for me, it does have a rewarding aspect to it. There is an assurance that God can and will, in the end, take all those experiences and work them for good. There truly is God's grace to make one new.
I would encourage caution, however, in suggesting this book to others. It is well written and graphically illustrates the experience of a painful childhood. I would recommend this only to those who feel they could read it without revisiting the pain of their own childhood.
Mark Bouman has served as a missionary since 1992. Today, he divides his time between ongoing missions work in Cambodia and commercial salmon fishing off the coast of Alaska. He and his wife and their two sons live in Anchorage, Alaska.
Tyndale House Publishers, 368 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.