Thursday, February 11, 2016

Shattered Silence - Melissa G. Moore & M. Bridget Cook

Summary:  Throughout her life, Melissa Jesperson Moore had to hide her true identity. She had pretended that life was perfect after her parents divorced and she was suddenly uprooted from everything familiar and loving. She had to be silent, and to pretend not to be disturbed or upset by her father's actions. Those experiences prepared Melissa to hide the deepest, darkest secret of all. As she began making different choices, building a successful and loving life on her own, her heart began to fill with rays of hope, though she could never quite rid herself of the dark shadow of secrecy and shame. Then one day, her beautiful, innocent daughter looked into her eyes and said, "Mommy, everybody's got a daddy. Where's your daddy?" 

Shattered Silence is an astonishing, true narrative of personal and spiritual transformation. From her secret life as "the daughter of The Happy Face Serial Murderer" to a woman that bared her soul and inspired millions, Melissa leads the reader on the vulnerable, compelling, and sometimes very raw journey of what it took to shatter the silence, and claim her own life.
 (Summary and image from  I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.)

Review:  Melissa had it tough growing up.  Her father was larger than life, this giant of a man that always made everything fun and magical and wonderful. But while he always made it clear that his kids were the most important thing to him, he had a temper. One that terrified Melissa and her siblings, even though he never laid a hand on him.  Her father is known as the Happy Face Serial Killer, Keith Jespersen.

Moore describes the choices she's made in her life, from very young until now, and how learning about her father's crimes has impacted her.  As she writes, there are many guide books for the families of the victims, but there is nothing out there for the families of the criminals.  Shattered Silence is her way of reaching out to the families left behind after these tragedies.  A way to give a face to the other victims, the ones who live with the guilt and the remorse and the pain despite their innocence.

As a memoir, this was well written.  Moore's voice is clear throughout the book as she talks about how she felt compelled at times to prevent her father from telling her what she now believes would have been the truth of his actions.  She talks about her difficult, jarring, emotional adolescence, the choices she made and how when she ignored what she felt was best or right, it didn't end well.  It was amazing to see how strong of a woman she has become in the face of so much adversity, and my heart broke for teenaged Melissa as she discovered the truth behind her father's crimes.

In digging a bit about the history of the Happy Face killer (I only remembered snippets) I was shocked to find that Moore has come under attack numerous times by her father for writing this book.  His vitriol toward his daughter served to validate what I had read, which, while flattering to the father she remembered, felt honest to the truth of what he did.  I caution you, don't let yourself fall down the same rabbit hole I did in that regard.  It was dark.

Rating: Four stars

For the sensitive reader:  Melissa talks about a rape and an assault by the boy who raped her in an attempt to abort the subsequent pregnancy.  It also touches on domestic violence, emotional manipulation, and inappropriate conversations between her father and his children.  In all honesty, it is handled with as much tact as could be expected, but it is difficult to read.

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