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The Blood on My Hands by Shannon O’Leary
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (February 3, 2016)
Format: Paperback; Kindle
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The child of a serial killer, Shannon O’Leary revisits her traumatic past in her memoir, The Blood on My Hands.
Set in 1960s and ‘70s Australia, The Blood on My Hands is the dramatic tale of Shannon’s childhood years, growing up under the shadow of horrific domestic violence, sexual and physical abuse, and serial murder. Her story is one of courageous resilience in the face of unimaginable horrors.
The responses of those whom Shannon and her immediate family reached out to for help are almost as disturbing as the crimes of her violent father. No one, not even the authorities, would help them. Relatives were afraid to bring disgrace to the family’s good name, nuns condemned the child’s objections as disobedience and noncompliance, and laws at the time prevented the police from interfering unless someone was killed.
The Blood on My Hands is a heartbreaking—yet riveting—narrative of a childhood spent in pain and terror, betrayed by the people who are supposed to provide safety and understanding. The strength it took for Shannon to not just survive and escape from her father, but to flourish, heal, and triumph over the trauma she endured as a child is both powerful and moving.
“I used pseudonyms in the book order to protect my family. He was never charged despite the police knowing about his activity. The police investigations were case files and are not available to the public. People outside Australia would not be aware that many of the missing person files in NSW in the 1960s and 70s disappeared under one of the governments of the time (there are only about 6 files for the 1960s),” says O’Leary.
About the author
Shannon O’Leary is a prolific writer and performer. She is the author of several books of poetry and children’s stories, and she has won many awards for song-writing.
Shannon has acted and directed on the stage and on Australian national TV, and she runs her own production company.
She has numerous graduate and post-graduate degrees in education, music, and science. She is a teacher and academic, has five children with her deceased former husband, and lives with her longtime partner in Sydney, Australia.
Bear with me. This is my very first book review, and to be honest, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. 😉 I will get better the more I do this, I’m sure.
The Blood on My Hands is a true story of murder, domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse, survival, and finally, healing. Shannon O’Leary witnessed her own father commit murder and horrific acts against her mother and two brothers. Shannon herself endured years of physical and sexual abuse by the one man who was supposed to protect her. When no one else helped them, they rescued themselves, finally leaving behind the monster who tortured and abused them for years, and found a path to a better future.
I had a hard time putting this book down. If you’re looking for an inspiring autobiography, this is it. It is the ultimate story of survival. Shannon’s childhood was so traumatic, it’s a wonder she’s here today to tell about it. Her strength and bravery resonate throughout the entire book.
The horrifying events Shannon witnessed at the hands of her own father, in addition to the appalling abuse she also suffered, are unimaginable to most of us who never experienced anything remotely like what Shannon endured. She takes the reader on this horrifying journey to the point where you really feel like you’re there with her, wanting to comfort, soothe, and protect Shannon, her siblings, and their mother.
I also love the fact that even though Shannon could easily have gone down the wrong path because of all the trauma, she rose above, and made an incredible life for herself and her children.
The only thing I did not like about the book was that a couple of the chapters are really long, over 25 pages. I tend to not like long chapters because I feel like I’m never going to get to the next chapter.
OVERALL REACTION: I loved this book and highly recommend it to my true crime readers.