Imagine, if you will, you’ve survived being childhood sex abuse. Imagine, you work to put yourself through college and earn your seat in a prestigious MFA program. Imagine, you’ve taken your experience as a survivor and skill as a writer and turned it into advocacy for other survivors. This would be a story worth celebrating.
This was Alice Anderson’s story. But her celebration was cut short when married Liam.
As we learn in the opening scenes of Anderson’s memoir “Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away,” Liam was controlling and he was cheating on her. In short order, we learn about his progressively worsening OCD. His years verbally abusing her and isolating her from everyone and everything she loves. Soon after the discovery of Liam’s infidelity, he attempts to kill her. Anderson takes us along for every heart-racing turn of her escape, the ensuing custody saga, and long-term impact of the night she was nearly murdered.
Anderson is a gifted writer, in both poetry and prose. In “Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away,” she is conversational and poetic. I powered through reading the book in two days because I had to know what happened next. I can’t recommend this memoir more highly for the story, the craft, and the fist-pumping badassery of Anderson fighting her way out and naming names.
Anderson has a well-developed instinct and she listens to it. She had no shortage of people who supported her. But she endured her fair share of tu-tutting from people who didn’t want to interfere with a parent’s relationship, however violent, with his children. Law enforcement and court personnel who threw up their hands and said, “we know he tried to kill you, but he didn’t hurt the children.”
Anderson shares it all, every infuriating cycle of her ex-husband’s pattern of abuse and the court’s fixation on reunification. A pattern that, ironically, mimics the oft-criticized pattern of a domestic violence victim going back to an abuser. Several times throughout the book, she notes how much easier it would have been to stay.
There are crucial, lifesaving lessons to be learned from her story. For saving ourselves, for saving people we love, and for advocating for vulnerable people in courts. This is a must-read for people who write state and federal legislation around intimate partner violence and family law. It should be required reading for anyone involved with family court. Because while “I’ll Fly Away” is a brutally triumphant story, it’s one that should not have to be told.
Writer Geek Out
Elements of Anderson’s poem The Split appear in her memoir. Poets especially might like the exercise of comparing the book passage with the poem.
There’s great interview with Alice Anderson over at The Rumpus. Check it out: Finding the Finally: Alice Anderson Discusses Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away.
Are you still here? Buy the book already!
Some Bright Morning, I’ll Fly Away was released on August 29, 2017 on St. Martin’s Press. It’s available on Amazon, IndieBound, and probably your local indie bookstore. Get you one!