Pros: A visceral, hard-hitting memoir that can’t fail to touch you
Cons: So incredibly dark; the religion will be too much for some
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review copy courtesy of Jane Wesman Public Relations, Inc.
Also published on Epinions.com.
It is perhaps unfortunate that the overdose of maudlin book-picks from the Oprah camp has led to tragedy burnout on some fronts. I’ve run into a number of people who are too worn out by these books to want to read another.
If you can handle another, however, I recommend that you make it Susie Scott Krabacher’s Angels of a Lower Flight—because it isn’t so much about the author as it is about the children she wants to help.
Susie grew up in hillbilly-land in an abusive family, and aged much faster than she should have had to. When she was offered a chance to become a Playboy Playmate, she jumped at it—the money and perks gave her a chance to escape her life. Unfortunately they led her to another tragic life of drugs and abusive men.
Finally she wised up and got out. She took on little jobs to pay her way and get a divorce from her con-man husband, and she ended up marrying the lawyer who helped her. She tried to run an antiques business, but she was never entirely happy. One day she took a trip to Haiti to see if she could help the poor people there, and her life changed forever.
Mrs. Krabacher unflinchingly shows us all sides of herself, including the selfish, the foolish, and the hopelessly naive. And oh, how naive she was, at so many points. She got taken in by con-men and con-women over and over in Haiti. Yet that same naivete allowed her keep trying in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and although the situation is a continual struggle—there is no finish line to announce “she succeeded!”—her organization now cares for more than 3,000 children in Haiti. Many of those children would have died of disease and malnutrition otherwise; many of them were discarded by their families due to deformities and handicaps.
Make no mistake—this is an incredibly hard book to read, and the images it leaves in your mind will haunt you after you’re done reading it. The living conditions and depth of corruption in Haiti are so deplorable it’s almost impossible to imagine. The level of religious conviction Mrs. Krabacher displays might also be uncomfortable for those non-religious readers; at one point I put the book down for a bit after she argued that voodoo was behind many of the evils in that country. I’d argue that it’s the people who misuse a religion in order to gain power who are at fault—just as she presumably would if I tried to use the horrors of the Crusades as ‘evidence’ that Christianity was similarly malevolent.
That aside, however, I can see that it would take deep conviction and yes, even unflagging naivete, in order to experience the setbacks she has and keep going. It’s amazing to read about her work, and the bright spots of hope and happiness within it.
Please consider visiting the Mercy & Sharing Foundation’s website and donating to help their children.