Memoir From Hell

Stephen Ross
Black Parrot Books (2018)
ISBN 9780997087635
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (10/18)

“Memoir from Hell” by Stephen Ross is the fictional memoir of Jake Malloy as he recounts the events of lives entrenched in horrific abuse resulting in tragedies no person should ever be exposed to, let alone two small children.

 Normally I don’t gravitate toward the abusive subject matter, and though I do not in any way discount the serious nature of any form of abuse, it is especially hard for me to read about it as it relates to children.  The title however, appealed to my appetite for shock factor and I felt called to read it. I ended up reading “Memoir from Hell” from cover to cover in one sitting.  It’s one of those books where you turn each page with trepidation, yet at the same time, you’re helpless to stop yourself.

 The story is narrated, literally, by the protagonist, Jake Malloy, as his therapist recommended getting the story out through the use of a recording machine.  Through Jake’s unsophisticated, raw dialect, the reader actually hears his lack social skills and proper speech due to living a sheltered life that encompassed only the size of the square footage of his childhood home. Television, books or anything that might expose Jake and his sister Dory to the world outside their own personal hell was forbidden. And while their mother tried to normalize things as much as possible, she was no match for her narcissistic, junkie husband and could do little to protect her children. 

Oftentimes frustrated with the helplessness of the situation I wondered why they stayed, why not run away – but to where, and with whom would they be safe?  Realistic and genuine, the writing rocked my very core as my whole body tensed with emotion, and I feared the next incident right along with Jake and Dory.  The ending is dramatic and haunting. I had to get out of the house and get some fresh air when I finished!

“Memoir from Hell” by Stephen Ross is a disturbing yet gripping memorable read I highly recommend.  The story will stick with readers for quite some time – not for the faint of heart!