Red City Review



bloodShannon O’Leary’s autobiography The Blood on My Hands is the chronicle of a childhood difficult to believe and grotesque to observe. In a strikingly clean, clear, and direct dictation, O’Leary describes the childhood she endured in Australia, beginning with the equally disturbing roots of her family. O’Leary paints a vivid picture of an abusive father plagued by multiple personalities, many of which sought to harm not only O’Leary but her mother and three siblings. Taking her readers back in time to her traumatic past, O’Leary travels brutally through her most ruinous memories wrought with a murderous father and a terror-stricken mother. From animal slaughter to rape, O’Leary witnesses some of the ugliest humanity has to offer, and boldly proffers these memories to readers likely unfamiliar with such atrocities.

A haunting memoir of tremendous courage amidst extreme cruelty, The Blood on My Hands will grip you hard and will linger in your mind long after you set it down. A childhood such as O’Leary endured is difficult to understand as having been real, and readers will likely spend the majority of their time reading her pages with awe-struck incredulity and bitter outrage. The work is crisp and painfully honest, moving from scene to scene both artfully and factually. Both the mundane and the impossible are treated with equal care, masterfully knitting together the various pieces of O’Leary’s tormented past. The reality of abusive childhoods becomes inescapable in The Blood on My Hands, and its readers will have a difficult time leaving the images it calls forth behind.

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