by John Fahey
Review by Monica Di Santi
Survival:From broken Childhood to PhDportrays his childhood suffering and how he manages to overcome adversity with the power of his inner strength and will. Adaptation, transformation and contrasts are present all through his narrative.
He starts his chronicle with long, entangled sentences that reflect the burden of those early years, and the slowness of time passing together with the belief that a relief was almost unlike. He is a boy trapped in an aggressive environment.
As the tale progresses the sentences become a bit shorter and simpler. He finds some peace and happiness far away from home. In the end, the excitement of surpassing his past and throwing himself into a new life style makes his report quick and shallow.
His biography revolves around contrasts that enhance the conflicts he goes through and provides diverging views.
“I’ll poke out your eyes with a red hot poker if I catch you reading again,” he would threaten" ( His father's rage) p 9
"It was as if I had arrived in a magical land where the sky was brighter and the air smelled sweeter and everyone was kind and spoke softly and I was no longer you bastard; I had my own name, John." ( Ireland) p 5
"I would get extra desserts and more on my plate every day from the women serving the food. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized those kind ladies were seeing the bruises and abrasions and worn clothes that I unconsciously carried with me throughout my school" p 16
"I had a deep set conviction that one day I would turn a page and the solution to my fears would leap out at me and I would be able to suddenly move myself into a much better life." p 19
"I became an altar server at the church and was comforted by the serenity and solemnity of early morning Mass." p 12
"I knew my father and mother would not be home from the pubs until after eleven o’clock, and later if there was a stop at the fish and chips shop so I knew I could find drunken dangers by getting back too early." p 37
"I’d known for some time that because my father and grandparents had been born in Ireland I was entitled to apply for Irish citizenship. I resolved to do it." p 96
"It would puzzle me that some of my classmates would have food preferences, not liking this thing or that." p 26
"I’d received from Arthur in New York inviting me for a visit. He’d written that it was a holiday called Thanksgiving and there would be feasting." p 144
"Martin and the other Irishmen would watch the transaction from the farmer, looking out for me, protecting me, for the farmer was English and they wanted to make sure I was getting what I was due, and being a boy, needed their protection against the English" p 51
Author John Fahey does a good job in showing how effort and persistence can be the best medicine against adversity and injustice.
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