April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month and in this month, I want to bring you a review of a book that will shed some light on what abused children go through. So this year, I want to review Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming!
Alan Cumming is a well-known celebrity, having played roles in GoldenEye, The Good Wife, Caberet (on stage), hosting PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery. But before that, he was a young boy growing up on Panmure Estate in Scotland, the son of head Forestry worker Alex Cumming.
Alex Cumming was an extremely harsh man who put both Alan and his brother Tom through years of torment and abuse. This abuse has had lasting effects on both boys even into adulthood.
When the popular Genealogy show “Who Do You Think You Are?” asks Alan to be a guest, and takes him on a journey to discover the truth behind his Maternal Grandfather who went missing, and a tabloid ignites Alex Cumming’s rage again, Alan’s life suddenly becomes very complicated as new revelations about himself and his family come in waves.
Alan uses this book to brilliantly illustrate what it was like to grow up abused and to live as an adult in the aftermath of the abuse. At first, the constant switching between the past, the recent past, and the present seems haphazard, but as one continues, it becomes clear that the book is arranged this way to show how each experience is linked.
The use of telling his own story and telling his grandfather’s story side by side is brilliant. Alan highlights the similarities between the life experiences of himself, his mother, his grandmother, his grandfather, his father, and his brother to show patterns in life experiences of different people who all took very different paths in their lives and how these similarities all meant different things for each person.
This book is brilliant look into what it is to be abused and to try to overcome the effects of abuse from the mind of a person who ahas lived it. It is a great book to read if you are looking to understand what kind of effect abuse has on a child into their adulthood. I also love that Alan admits that he has had therapy to help himself overcome the abuse and you can see the positive application of the things Alan has learned in therapy in his daily life and in moments of crisis throughout the book.
I applaud Alan Cumming for being so honest because it sheds a lot of light on the plight of abused children. If you are being abused, or know a child who is being abused, say something. Silence hides violence and allows it to continue. It IS your business and your responsibility to say something if you know a child is facing abuse. Speak to the proper authorities. Call DFACS or CPS, the school social worker, or the police and report what you know.
People saw evidence that Alan was being abused, but no one did anything. Alan only escaped when he became and independent man. He was more fortunate that the many who die as a result of abuse every year.
If you know something, say something.
Until next time,Lizzie <3