In more than one way, Under My Roof reminds me of a mystery novel. The memoir begins like innumerable accounts of dating, romance and eventual marriage in America. The only hint of trouble to come is dislike of Emma's parents for Ray, their soon to be son-in-law, a not unheard of response. As the story unfolds there are more intimations of trouble to come-drunkenness, a terrible accident but nothing to prepare us for the scene revealing a heartbreaking and most heinous evil We see this family develop through the eyes of the mother.We feel with her an unease with the moods, anger and drinking of her spouse. Routine and apparent normalcy keep the family going, just as it does in our own lives. Ray has some likable but strange parents-another tiny hint of the horror to come? -and his faults, but nothing indicative of molestation,. Would to God molesters appeared as criminals they are! Alas, they look like regular guys. Like the clever murderer at the center of a mystery, Ray manages to disguise his methods of manipulation in pursuit of his perversion.
If we can believe the astounding number of children now being molested- most of them victimized by members of their own families- this book is both necessary and, to use a strange word, comforting. Under My Roof is necessary because it teaches us how insidious and damaging molestation is and how relentless and devious the familial perpetrator can be. The memoir is comforting because Emma is so much like ourselves, raising her kids, struggling with her husband's apparent weaknesses but understandably missing
what he took such pains to hide.
Under My Roof is also comforting in that abuse and it's attendant agony and pain do not have to have the last word. Faith in God contributes to the healing, which begins slowly and wonderfully to unfold.
Parents, teenagers, teachers, clergy, counselors and people in law enforcement would surely benefit from reading this book. Conversational in style, Under My Roof gets under the skin as well as startling and moving the heart. I found Emma's story gripping and the book difficult to put down. I hope and pray Under My Roof has a wide readership.
Fr. Patrick J. Dooling
Diocese of Monterey, California