Book Review: The Blood on My Hands - Shannon O'Leary

The Blood on My Hands: An Autobiography by Shannon O'Leary is the dramatic tale of her childhood years, who grew up under the shadow of horrific domestic sadism, sexual and bodily exploitation, and series of murders, betrayed by the folks who are thought to provide shelter and consideration, and the potency and guts it takes, not just to endure and escape, but to do well and blossom.

Set in 1960s and '70s Australia, the author is fragile, insecure, unhappy but also decided, insightful, combative but the responses of those whom she and her immediate family contact for aid are almost as worrying as the crimes of her sadistic father, as relatives are troubled to bring shame to the family's good name, nuns pan the child's objections as defiance and nonconformity, and laws at the time check the police from prying unless someone is killed.

It’s difficult to find a precise definition to frame this novel with a story of a woman tinged with yellow, violence and a history of family disruption in an intricate story of lies and truth with the voice lived as what they can encapsulate the essence of the person, the real voice that speaks to you with heart or the voice that deceives you, the voices with all their charm, the voices full of sweetness, the voices steeped in hatred with voices of men, women, mothers, fathers and voices from the distant past.

The author succumb to family and adverse social and cruel fates and can see beyond appearances and listen to the voices of those around with the underlying theme of the novel runs on the value and meaning of the voices of the characters, items, or stories, confessions, thoughts.

The biography is enriched page after page, as the truths intertwine in the lies, and the life of the protagonist takes shape, capturing the attention and heart of the reader as the author strip the society from the masks they wear, in probing the soul, in grasping the many facets of a divided existence between her position in the family and in society.

This is a novel that envelops you with so many forms and colours of the authors’ life, because in the end life is so. The plot part with ease and then became a ball by a thousand threads, charging of intensity, love, pain, suffering and hope, as the author takes us on an exciting journey into the wilderness of human relationships, whether they are her family, business, friendship or love.

Violence and abuse of women is, unfortunately, now almost daily news with heinous crimes, preceded or not by acts of sexual violence, and have become a social alarm to be fought by all means as the inner frustrations and uncontrolled animalistic instinct explode on weaker beings.

The author is able to capture the hidden horrors experienced by her and the inner tragedies that change her life even at the cost of irreversible tragedies. The book is among the most disturbing as it unfurls many miseries and misfortunes that lie beyond our quiet apartments.

It is a raw novel, that cynically describes scenes of violence in their cruelty, and does not linger in the exposition of particular gruesome and morbid act, but rather the story involves, anguishes and excites. The singularity of the novel lies in this, in the fact that the story evolves, in the form of yellow.

The voice of the author represent the various aspects of reality, each in its own way as the tormented soul give voice to her distress, those guilty of denying the truth to themselves, in a voice no less clear and heartfelt as the noise, echo, noise of violence and injustice.

We can say ultimately that it is a sound novel and is a book that through words makes us feel and allows us to hear the background noise, tones, the stomping, the thrills, the sighs, mutterings and then the truth, the bitterness, the pain, the shame, the lie, the removal and the lies.

ISBN-13: 978-1519695871 • Binding: Paperback • Published: 3 February 2016 • Publisher: CreateSpace • Pages: 247 • Language: English