A Book Review - Finding Me by Michelle Knight
I expected this book to be extraordinary. Three women held captive - how could it not be a great read.
But what Michelle Knight had gone through prior to the kidnapping was what got me.
A childhood steeped in uncertainty and fear from abuse and neglect only to be surpassed by the torture at the hands of a hideous monster.
She wouldn't call him by name, and instead called him "the dude."
This was more than just a great read, this was her life, and her very self that emerges from the pages - that is what is extraordinary. My heart ached deeper and more intensely than I ever expected.
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The beginning of the book describes Michelle's life as a 4 year old, homeless and living in a car with her mother, father, twin brothers aged 2 and an even younger cousin.
Cold and hungry, Michelle was tasked with taking care of the younger children, while her parents did. . . . what?
Michelle very tactfully leaves this to the readers discretion, although I'm sure she grew to have her suspicions, just as the reader will. This is part of the grace with which Michelle writes this book.
Abuse and neglect
Michelle lived a life of abuse and neglect as a child. After living in a car for a year, her family moved from one house to another. Michelle alludes to the constantly moving, rather than come out and say what the reader may deduce. For one, they were probably evicted - more than once, and for two, the goings on in the house were most likely not legal.
Michelle describes never having a bedroom, constantly just finding a place to sleep, as people came in and out of the house at random.
Wanting to know who these people were, and assuming some were relatives, she never asked. How does a child even formulate a thought much less ask questions when they grow up in chaos.
School was random as well, as she was pulled out of class by her mother so often that she had difficulty keeping up.
Unfortunately, Michelle's innocense was taken long before being kidnapped and held captive.
Innocence was lost when as a young child she began to be sexually abused by one of the men who was living in the house.
Under the threat of violence and death, this occurred constantly regardless of Michelle's attempts to hide from this hideous man.
At the age of 15, she dropped sleeping pills into the pedophiles drink, stuffed her backpack with as much as she could, and sneaked out the bathroom window. Michelle left without a clue as to what she would do next, she just knew she had to get away.
Now she was labeled as a runaway
The year 2002, The year she was kidnapped
2002, I had my own life struggles and new beginnings while negotiating a cross country move as a single mom.
I remember hearing about the kidnapping, and how easy it was to lesson my concern when the media had reported she had runaway in the past.
Just as many may have thought, "She's probably OK, she probably just ran away again." So now my guilt increased as I forged ahead through the chapters, knowing her life would get worse.
Just like when she was four years old, Michelle was homeless again. Living under a bridge for a while, sleeping in a trash can to stay warm, finally finding a soup kitchen to visit once a day.
A warm place to sleep, food in her stomach, and a feeling of safety while living with a drug dealer took Michelle out from under the bridge for a brief amount of time. Short lived when the law crossed paths with the dealer and Michelle was under the bridge again.
Now when I think of someone getting kidnapped, I picture them being snatched up and thrown into a car. Well not for Michelle. For Michelle, this is what happens when her own father discovers her whereabouts.
Enrolled in High School, hungry for a sense of family, Michelle found what she thought was love in a deceitful teenage boy, who also happened to have a warm place to put it with another girl.
From this liason, Michelle found herself pregnant and now the love of her life was her new baby boy.
Another 18 months later and Family Services in Ohio had taken her baby away because her mothers boyfriend had phsyically harmed the child while in a drunken stupor.
I find my heart breaking even harder as Michelle describes the painful loss of her child and her attempts to get him back. It was in fact on one of these attempts, when she was desperately trying to get to court, that Michelle accepted the ride from the monster that controlled her life for the next decade.
But, it was the love of this baby that got Michelle through the hardest of times.
The subsequent chapters describe the horrors, the torture, the sick and depraved treatment from "the dude."
After Michelle was freed, after much jubilation, shock from a nation, and of course celebration, the healing needed to begin.
Michelle's mother arrived in Ohio from Florida for a reunion that did not happen. The mother that let Michelle suffer abuse and neglect. The mother that let her grandbaby suffer at the hands of her drunken boyfriend, and then let the child live in foster care until adopted while Michelle was missing.
I remember when Michelle was going to be on Dr. Phil shortly after being free. Was this exploitation? Gasp! Dr. Phil was just taking advantage, tsk, tsk. So called experts debated about whether or not this was good for Michelle.
Are you kidding me!???
Someone actually thought Michelle might be doing herself harm by telling her story so soon. My opinion..... She can do whatever she wants, and none of us should judge. None of us.
After reading this book and getting a glimpse of what Michelle had been through, she deserves to have nothing but honor and respect. This is a women who emerged from depravity with grace and dignity.
"You can not break what has already been broken", Michelle states.
Lily Rose Lee
Michelle's life with her son will be lived from a painfully distant perspective. As it is in her son's best interest, she will observe her son anonymously and only as much as the adopted family will allow. Truly a mother's love to do what's best for her son regardless of how painful it may be.
Michelle changed her name to Lily, so from now on it's Lily. Lily Rose Lee.
And, she should have nothing go wrong again - ever. Ever in her life. May she not even have so much as a bad hair day.