House Rules: A Memoir - Rachel Sontag
published 2008 – 261 pages
From the book jacket -
At an early age, Rachel Sontag realized there was something deeply wrong with her father. On the surface, he was a well-respected, suburban physician. But questioning his authority led to brutal fights, disobedience meant humiliating punishments. When she was twelve, he duct-taped her stereo dial to National Public Radio, measured the length of her hair and fingernails with a ruler, and regulated when she could shower.
A memoir of a father obsessed with control and the daughter who fights his suffocating grasp, House Rulesexplores the complexities of their compelling and destructive relationship, and his equally manipulative relationships with his wife and other daughter. As Rachel’s mother cedes all her power to her husband, and her sister fades into the background of their family life, Rachel fights to escape, and, later, to make sense of what remains of her family.
My thoughts -
It’s hard to know what to say after reading memoirs of abuse. Saying that I loved this book doesn’t seem right somehow, because it is a sad and troubling portrayal of a person’s real life, and it was somewhat of a disturbing book to read. But I did love the way Sontag wrote about her family, the way she put it all out there and let the reader experience what she (unfortunately) experienced in her life. I have no doubt that her father was every bit as terrifying as she made him sound, probably more so, and reading this book simply made me feel sad for her. I actually truly feel for Sontag, because when I was growing up, I went through similar types of things with my father… he wasn’t anywhere NEAR as abusive and controlling as hers, but he did do some of the same kinds of controlling and abnormal behaviors with myself, my mom, and my brothers and sister. So coming from that perspective, I truly understand and appreciate her telling this story and needing to tell it in order to heal from her past. At the end of the book, Sontag explores her relationships with her mother and sister as they stand now, and I truly hope, for her sake, that those three women are able to patch up their relationships with each other and lean on each other. I’ve learned through my life that the only people you can really count on are your family – and when some members of your family are less than ideal, you really need to stick by those family members who ARE there for you. So I hope that they can forge a friendship with one another from here on out.
I’d definitely recommend this book, especially if you like memoirs, this one is a really good, quick read.
Also reviewed by: Bookroomreviews at Bookroomreviews’ Weblog.