"Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life" - JK Rowling
Since I started my blog, the doors on my world of reading have been cast wide open and I’ve found myself being drawn more and more towards memoirs – particularly those about people who have something important to share with the world.
I have come to believe that memoirs allow their authors to turn lives into stories that we can relate to as we explore another person’s life, giving us an in-depth understanding and insightfulness on issues that we may, or may not, have been subjected to ourselves. Perhaps it is my love of all things psychological, but memoirs satisfy my craving to understand the diversity of human experience.
So, needless to say, never has a book held me as absorbed as The House of Lies by Renee McBryde, not because I was “enjoying” it as such, but because I needed to find out what was going to happen and whether Renee was going to be ok!
In this affecting memoir, Renee, the daughter of a murderer, tells of her tumultuous childhood and her perilous journey towards self-acceptance as she searches through a past to discover where she came from and what her less than perfect beginnings meant to her own identity.
From the distraught little girl with adult burdens who didn’t know how she was going to survive without her Nanna, a bullied teenager hiding behind the persona of Ruby, to a disillusioned eighteen year old with a strong moral compass doing intro’s and cleaning part-time in a brothel in Canberra to finance her uni studies, Renee keeps the secrets of her past buried deep and fermenting away as she conceals her shattered innocence, unconventional childhood, judgments, beliefs, disgust and fear on a journey paved with guilt, self-loathing, shame and regret, eventually finding herself caught up in the cycle of both abuse and self-abuse.
Fuelled by her fear of loneliness, Renee is completely oblivious to the cycle of violence that eventually enters her life, and unknowingly sets the stage for it to flourish as she begins to believe the perpetrator’s lies, thinking that she deserves the treatment he metes out because of her past.
Loaded with powerful and shocking moments, along with some graphic scenes, this is a well-written albeit difficult and deeply personal coming-of-age story in which Renee unpacks her life and spreads it out on the pages before us, intimately entangling the reader in her struggles to look back and understand it all.
Her willingness to publicise her secrets is indeed a courageous act and one that should be commended, because at the heart of it all resides the resilience of the human spirit and a journey that I am hopeful will connect, heal and inspire others on their own journeys towards salvation.
I wish to thank the publisher, Hachette Australia, for providing me with an ARC copy for review purposes.
About the Author
Majoring in Community Welfare at university, Renee McBryde has worked in the community services sector for the last fifteen years, primarily working with disadvantaged children.
She currently works in Child Protection for the Northern Territory government. She also teaches various Community Welfare courses in Alice Springs to upskill other professionals within the sector.
About the Book
This compelling memoir of family secrets, murder, sexual assault and domestic violence is also the gripping story of Renee's constant struggle to accept the truth and her true identity, and, ultimately, to forge a life on her own terms.
From the outside, Renee McBryde had a fairly typical childhood - school, working mum, swimming lessons with loving grandparents. But waiting for her was a secret so awful that it would rock her to the core.
Renee's mother was a teenage runaway who found herself pregnant and alone when Renee's father was jailed for killing two men. When Renee discovered the truth, she knew her life would never be the same again. She was a murderer's daughter - but that made her determined to escape the past.
This is her sometimes shocking, often moving, inspirational true story of terrible secrets and tragic lies, and a life of abuse, suffering and survival.
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Pub Date: 31 January 2017