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The Inconvenient Child
Singing from Silence
My Life Closed Twice
The Inconvenient Child
An Abandoned Australian Child Struggles to Survive and Find Her American Father
by Sharyn Killens & Lindsay Lewis
416 pp., paperback
Fathered by a nameless black soldier and borne and reared, sort of, by a woman she called Princess Mummy (later Ice-Princess Mummy), Australian singer and memoirist Sharyn Killens has led a fairytale of a life — sometimes a dark one. Like all good fairytales, it’s a rags-to-riches saga, but since it’s also a twentieth-century tale, the riches are those of the spirit. The inconvenient child Sharyn Samuels transforms herself into Sharyn Crystal, elegant popular entertainer — and woman on a quest — and ultimately into Sharyn Killens, who at last knows her own story.
Unwanted and neglected by her white mother and grandmother, despised for her brown skin, Sharyn was sent at age five to the Aussie equivalent of Ireland’s notorious Magdalene Laundries, those convents where unwanted girls were locked up to atone for their “sins” with hard work. (Sharyn refers to her caretakers as the “Sisters of No Mercy.”) The outcome was inevitable: juvenile detention centers, strip clubs, drugs, a too-early romantic career, children, husbands, and the search for self-respect in a country that despised people of her color.
Her eventual success as a cabaret and luxury cruise singer offered Killens a partial salvation, as well as her devotion to her sons and her second husband. Most significant was Sharyn’s determination to find her father, the mysterious American G.I. who had wooed and won her mother in 1948, and then sailed away, promising to send for her, but never came back.
Co-written with Lindsay Lewis, a businesswoman and former entertainer who is Killens’s long-time friend, The Inconvenient Child makes for lively reading, although the prose is seldom more than serviceable, and the book as a whole lacks the sort of deeper insight that makes for a truly resonant autobiography. Nonetheless, The Inconvenient Child is an absorbing book with a great storyline and memorable scenes. It’s also a vivid look back at postwar Australia, as well as a moving reminder of the sons and daughters of overseas servicemen, too many of whom still become inconvenient children. — M.LAWRENCE
Singing from Silence
Rich Mullins: Love Beyond Fear
By Pamela Richards
Pamela Richards ( Dog Ear Publishing), 2012
142 pages, paperback
$15.99 / Kindle $8.99
We belong to love; love does not belong to us.—Pamela Richards
A love story, a memoir, a biography of a popular Christian composer and performer, a testimonial to Christ’s redeeming love—which is it? Singing from Silence combines all these genres into one intriguing and inspirational tale. It leaves the reader convinced of God’s great love for humanity and how it is played out in the lives of those who may not realize at the time how their words and actions will go on to demonstrate God’s redemptive love to others.
Art student Pamela Richards meets Richard Mullins at Cincinnati Bible College in 1974. From day one these two unconventional individuals become fast friends. Self-proclaimed “pagan” Pamela never wanted to attend Bible school in the first place but was given few options by her family. Rich is a Quaker mystic, a musical prodigy, and a budding Christian composer, destined for a career in youth ministry. While others assume the two are a dating couple, their relationship remains platonic. Pamela can never quite see herself as becoming a full partner to Rich’s musical ministry, and the idea of sharing him with crowds of admirers doesn’t appeal to her. She resists any notions they will ever marry yet steadfastly continues to be supportive and encouraging of her friend’s task to share the love of God through word and music.
Theirs is a love stronger than a mere romantic relationship can provide, Pamela concludes. It is a muse that generates soaring heights of artistic creation while in turn nurturing a deep closeness able to survive harsh words, long years with little contact, and the hell of Pamela’s divorce from an abusive spouse. Although Pamela and Rich are never able to become a couple in the worldly sense, she becomes increasingly aware of how their mutual love and friendship gives evidence to how God used the musical genius of Rich Mullins to bring others into a closer relationship with Him.
Singing from Silence testifies to how poignant yet exhilarating it is to know that death itself has no hold over us as long as we are joined together in the creative power that is God’s love.– C.MATTHEWS • 2/1/13
The loss of a one loved one is always tragic, but the loss of two family members within a very short period of time must be devastating. Such was Sandra Schocket’s loss when both her husband Jay and her thirty-year-old son Barry died within twenty-four hours of each other. In the memoir My Life Closed Twice, Schocket recounts in painstaking detail the healing process she underwent in the days, weeks and months after their passing.
Schocket admits she went into automatic pilot and tried to keep up a normal pace by taking care of the funeral arrangements, handling her husband’s estate (she never found his will) and dealing with her finances. She admits that as a career woman during the era of stay-at-home moms she was used to an independent lifestyle and making her own decisions, but the sudden loss of her spouse still brought on indecision and second-guessing. Added to the grief of losing her spouse and learning to manage as a single woman, she had to deal with the agony of outliving a child, probably the worst thing any parent can contemplate. What would Barry have done with his life? What would become of his young wife? How would his younger brother cope minus his best friend? How would she remember Barry’s birthday and her and Jay’s anniversary?
My Life Closed Twice might have been written to help those who have experienced similar bereavement issues. However, its strength doesn’t lie in practical advice (although the appendix does contain helpful information on support groups) but in the mirror Schocket provides into the everyday life of a woman who is widowed unexpectedly. Random connections between past and present events give the reader insight into the thinking processes of the grieving mind. Reaching into her past, she looked for solace in her Jewish faith that she had not really practiced since she lived at home. The deaths of her husband and son brings personal emotional growth and understanding, showing that there is purpose to all life events, both heartrending and happy. — C.MATTHEWS
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