Show and Tell
Review by Molly
Karen Vanderlaan was born in Paradise: home was a four hundred acre dairy farm in the remote Vermont village of West Newbury. Life spent on Milky Way Farm was idyllic. A pale yellow farm house, apple trees, riding her pony, caring for a series of fawns rescued by her Dad, working on the farm, carrying cups of hot coffee out to the milking barn to help warm up their Dad, attending a one room school and enjoying the beauty of fall all left their mark on Vanderlaan. Years passed, seasons came to create memories of a time when all was right in her world sledding on feed sacks, separating calves from their mothers so the milk could be sold, maple sugar time, Christmas and Halloween, town get-togethers filled with music and fun, time seemed to stand still and Vanderlaan wished it might continue forever.
"One of the reasons my mother later gave for leaving Milky Way Farm was that she wanted a bigger, better life for us."
Memory of family with siblings and Dad and Mother, supper together and older her sister relating how a trusted family friend had molested her are part of the memory. The loss of the one hundred year old house that served as family home was followed quickly by the birth of Vanderlaan's third sibling, this was not a planned pregnancy and Vanderlaan's mother was not at all happy with the birth of Teresa.
"Truth was the tempo of all our lives perpetually rose and fell according to the whims of our eccentric, high-strung, self centered mother."
When her parents began fighting because the farm was making no money Vanderlaan's mother had come to the end of her endurance. Her mother,s relationship with motorcycle riding Bunny was a turning point, and not for the better for Vanderlaan, her siblings or their father.
Show and Tell is not a fun little feel good story, it is one that Karen Vanderlaan had to write. Her words will leave readers pondering the resiliency of the human spirit. The years she spent on a Vermont family farm came to an end the day that her mother abandoned her husband and moved the children away from their father and the farm.
Author Vanderlaan investigates her agonizing past, holds fast to the concrete, potent, memories that helped pave the way to her increasing effort to set things right. The cruelty exhibited by the woman named Bunny is hard to fathom, harder to understand is Vanderlaan's mother's acceptance of the cruelty. Vanderlaan is a strong woman capable of facing down whatever demons life chose to pile upon her before finally reach a turning point toward a life filled with caring, hope and joy.
Physically and mentally abused by Bunny; Vanderlaan and her siblings lived in poverty and anguish and unending neglect and abuse. She sought what all children need, love and affection and a sense of belonging. These needs are heightened for an abused child. Her horses provided one way for Vanderlaan to escape from the pain.
On the pages of Show and Tell and despite so many pages filled with sadness and misery; writer Vanderlaan has crafted an inspirational work. Vanderlaan experienced far more abuse and misery during childhood and then during her early adult years than most of us realize is possible, notwithstanding that, she has managed to renew herself and create happiness and worthwhile activity for herself as single parent, rescuer of neglected horses and educator of emotionally disturbed children.
Show and Tell is an excellent addition for the therapist's shelf and for those who find comfort and solace through reading an inspired and inspirational work. Inspiring work, happy to recommend.
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These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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