Kimbra Martin
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Buy *Snapshots: A Rare Look at Childhood Trauma and Abuse from the Inside* online

Snapshots: A Rare Look at Childhood Trauma and Abuse from the Inside
Kimbra Martin
152 pages
August 1999
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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In this work of narrative nonfiction, Kimbra Martin opens up a world of familial trust and betrayal, woven with abuse and portrayed through the eyes of a child.

Cassie narrates her journey through any childís nightmare, often retelling the past then bringing the reader back to the present to show how her early childhood years affected the rest of her life, or how she overcame the incidents.

In a house with several siblings, none of whom were spared the trauma and torment, Cassie must find a way to cope with the onslaught of verbal abuse, sexual advances from her deranged father, and deal with the coldness and apparent apathy of her mother.

The insights in this book are plentiful, and the author has found a way to show the horror of Cassieís reality while maintaining dignity and compassion due to any child in this type of situation.

The indignities suffered at the hands of Cassieís father are plentiful: forcing Cassieís brother, Jeff to stand on a freshly broken leg; locking Cassieís mother out of the house for a week after she tried to stand up for the children (with no food, water or shelter); making Cassie and her sister sunbathe topless while he took photographs of them (and later made the whole family stare at the pictures and vote on who had the nicest breasts); and giving Cassie the choice of getting burned by a hot pan in the oven or allowing him to touch her "down there."

All the while, the children of the family suffered and no one did anything about it. Not Cassieís mother, not the few friends she confided in, and not the school headmistress she once confessed to. Ironically, that confession brought her severe punishment at home, but no outside involvement whatsoever. This indignity was revisited years later when the grown-up Cassie crossed paths professionally with the former headmistress. Whatís worse, the poor, pathetic woman didnít even recognize the name or face of the child she once betrayed.

One by one, the children began to leave their torturous nest, though some took longer than others to finally cut the ties that bound them - namely Cassie. Though, after several attempts, Cassie does manage to remove herself from the toxic environment that no child should be subjected to for one second, let alone years and years of harsh, degrading treatment.

Abuse is so much worse when it is your own flesh and blood doing it to you. After all, if the people genetically predisposed to love you, canít, then how is a child supposed to overcome that weighty burden?

"You can cry without a sound," says Cassie, "and the silence tells the truth."
And this book tells the truth as well. Snapshots of despair, courage and heartache abound, but the real gem of the book is Cassieís victory over her tormentors. Snapshots is remarkable for the nuance embedded by the author, its unique insights, and its ability to touch even the coldest of hearts. One hopes that Cassieís mother and father are out there reading the documentation of their crimes as well.

© 2004 by Karen Pruitt Fowler for Curled Up With a Good Book

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