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on Nov. 08, 2012 :
For most children, when they feel endangered, the source of safety is to go home. For a child who grows up with an alcoholic, it’s the opposite – home is dangerous, and safety lies in being anywhere else. The Shade Tree Choir captures that essence in a raw and powerful telling of the story of a child who grew up with a violent and abusive alcoholic. “Don’t cry, or I’ll give you something to cry about” is a phrase well understood by those who grew up under similar conditions – and David Nelson tells that story with a rawness that rekindles the emotions of that kind of life. It is a powerful story, well told.
Though there may be greater understanding of that life looking back as an adult, the emotional scars always remain. “I will never forget and never understand why he did all that stuff to me.” There is no rational explanation for the abuse the child suffered in that house Though there can be incredible healing, physical and emotional abuse is a legacy that only those who went through similar can fully appreciate, and which resonates deeply through this gut wrenching telling of the tale. Anyone who wants to understand a child who grew up with an alcoholic will gain incredible depth perception by reading The Shade Tree Choir.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Aug. 30, 2012 :
The Shade Tree Choir is the powerful story of a group of boys growing up in 1950s Dubuque. Author David Nelson isn't interested in a nostalgic look back at an idealized youth; he delivers a portrait of hardship, alcoholism, and abuse.
The kids here have fathers who returned from WWII to slave away in a slaughterhouse, and vent their confusion and frustration on their vulnerable families. The boys develop a siege mentality, bonding together to dispel their feelings of powerlessness in acts of reckless mischief. But battling this culture of death is like swimming upstream in the Mississippi River that flows past their city. It only seems to lead to tragedy.
Told without psychobabble or cheap sentiment, this haunting story is an honest, humane look at the dynamic of extreme family dysfunction.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)