While reading the first chapter, I thought I would have to set Shattered Silence aside. I wondered how a father could brutally kill kittens and, if that wasn't bad enough, to do so while his daughter was looking on.
This may read as a spoiler, of sorts, but I just felt I had to warn you, in case you decided not to read the book. The rest of the book isn't as graphic as the initial chapters, though they are still going to affect your emotions.
Melissa Moore's family separated as many families do and, despite the emotional abuse sometimes inflicted upon his children, for most of the book I got the feeling that Keith Jesperson, the man who would later become known as the Happy Face Killer, really loved his children, in his own unique way.
The next part of my thoughts are harder to convey. In the past, having been part of an emotionally abusive relationship, I knew my limits. There were certain things I would not condone; having someone shove me into a wall or physically abusing me, or my children, was something I would never have tolerated. I was shaken once - and only once - which makes what I'm about to say a little sobering. At the risk of causing an uproar, I fear I must speak my mind, especially since asked to provide an honest review of this title.
In all honesty, I believe that until Keith Jesperson started making his kids feel bad for the money he spent on them, followed by the knowledge he had confessed to being a serial killer, Melissa's mother's choice of a new husband was the damning part of Melissa and her siblings' childhood.
Coming from someone (me) who moved out on her own when she was 19 - who had one small meal a day to survive for several months - being poor would have been all right had Melissa's mother chosen to remain without a partner after her marriage to Keith Jespersen had come to an end.
The kids still would have had a little food on their table. They would have had their education and a loving home where they belonged, even if they had to pack undergarments in shoe boxes lined along a wall. Bottom line: it would have been tough, yes, but the children would have survived and learned to appreciate even the smallest of life's blessings. There may have even been people helping them from the goodness of their hearts.
My problem is this: when home becomes a prison - a place where kids are not comfortable and continually need to escape - it's not right and action should be taken. Home should be the most important refuge in a child's and adult's life. When that refuge is taken away, all bets are off in terms of a child growing into maturity in a fulfilling, healthy manner.
Yes, friends and their friends' parents can help fill the void but, at the back of any child's or abused person's mind is the fact that the escape is only temporary. They end up living in prison no matter where they are.
In terms of Shattered Silence, the book itself was written well enough. I wasn't grinding my teeth because of typos or formatting issues. Emotionally, however, when the kids were younger - after their mother remarried - I felt enraged. I felt emotions I would never commit to the written word.
You read my thoughts in the first paragraph about how I detest the cruel abuse of animals. I detest abuse period - of any kind, towards anyone or anything. However, as incredible - even unimaginable as this might sound - by the time I finished the book, I couldn't help but wonder if the kids would have been better off with their father.
Yes, the new woman he chose had a foul mouth and was abusive, in her own way, but he was there to prevent things from escalating. Yes, he murdered the occasional animal in cruel ways but he never laid a hand on his wife and children.
Compare this to how his kids had to live after their mother remarried - and there is no comparison. After all, how are children supposed to react when a man beats their mother to the point of putting her in the hospital, knowing their father had never done such a thing? Yes, I can growl even now as I write.
Keith Jesperson wasn't a serial killer when his children were young. In fact, I cannot help but wonder how a man who took such pride in the physical care of his family could brutally take a human life - and so many of them.
I can't help but wonder if something snapped after he got divorced, though it was his choice to end the marriage, or did he commit his first murder and then seek a divorce in hopes of sparing his family?
How did Keith Jesperson's kids turn out? Do they have demons they are forever trying to flee? How do they react when they hear their father's name? How do people treat them when they learn he is their father?
What happened to Keith Jesperson, the Happy Face Killer? Does he feel remorse for the crimes he has committed?
Some of these questions will be answered by the time you finish reading Shattered Silence but others will remain a mystery.
The title itself is perfect on so many levels, which you will come to realize after reading this book. Not only has Moore brought the painful aspects of her life into the light, she has become a source of encouragement to many people.
Would you like to read a story that will tug at your heartstrings and help you see how wonderful it is to live a normal abuse-free life, even if it is a trifle boring sometimes?
Would you like to read an account of how a person has managed to triumph over one set of devastating circumstances after another? If so, this book would be a great one to add to your collection. You'll definitely see Moore emerge as a courageous woman between the covers of this book.
For more information about Shattered Silence, please feel free to visit its page on Amazon.