||Oct 1, 2010
The Unbreakable Child, a menoir about forgiving the unforgivable. Confronts US orphanage abuses and the first US court awarded justice from Catholic clergy abuse.
World Cat Library
The Unbreakable Child
Abuse of children is always appalling and unforgiveable, whether perpetrated by a parent, a relative or a stranger. There's an added layer of disgrace to the crime when the perpetrators abuse not only children but their own authority and religious power.
Such was the case with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth at the St. Thomas/St. Vincent Orphanage, where more than a dozen nuns, a resident priest, and several other male employees routinely abused the boys and girls in their care. Author Kim Richardson survived years of physical and emotional abuse at their hands in the 1960s, abuse that began at infancy.
Years later, she and forty-four other survivors, including her sisters, launched a lawsuit against the nuns. That suit resulted in the first-ever monetary settlement paid by Roman Catholic nuns in the United States as compensation for decades of institutional abuse at an orphanage. This is not a book about hatred or revenge, but an inspiring story of a girl who would not be broken.
* Readers Discussion Guide included
Sister Charlie died the week I turned seven. Hate killed her, or so I’d heard. Whether it was hers or my own, I wasn’t quite sure.
For three days the nuns herded us into the Chapel to visit her body. And for two hours on each of those days, I knelt before dead Sister Charlie and worried about Hell. Hers and mine.
*Starred Review* While the abuses of Catholic priests have been making headlines in recent years, little has been heard about mistreatment at the hands of nuns. Here Richardson, who was raised in a Catholic orphanage in Kentucky in the 1960s, recounts the horrors that she and countless other children endured there and takes readers on her journey to rid herself of the awful memories. Her catharsis comes with a lawsuit, which she and 44 other survivors brought against the order that ran the orphanage. Richardson tells two simultaneous stories. In one, she recalls episodes from her childhood where her “misbehavior” (such as leaving soil on her panties) led to unheard-of punishments. In the other, she takes us through the steps of the group lawsuit, from the first meeting with the attorney to the first deposition where a sister was present to, finally, a settlement, the first of its kind against Catholic nuns. Richardson’s candid accounts are chilling, and the strength she shows—with a very supportive husband at her side—is inspiring. Remarkably, she did not abandon the church and in fact sends her children to Catholic schools. Hers is a beautifully told story about strength and an enduring faith that can lead but one place: to forgiveness. --Booklist
The most powerful story I've read in a long time. You'll feel her pain and her triumph, and be reminded that the human spirit is resilient beyond all reason. This book will change you. —Jenna Glatzer, author, Celine Dion: For Keeps
One of the best and most disturbing books I have read in my life. Pain, despair, courage and hope fill every page... It should be required reading for parents, social workers and especially religious employees and volunteers of every denomination. - Morris Dees, Founder of The Poverty Law Center, author, A lawyers Journey, The Morris Dees Story, Hate on Trial
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