Thirty Days With My Father is quite a memoir and it tells a story that has not been publically told before. It is the story of how a young man’s experiences in Vietnam during the war developed into PTSD and left him disabled and unable to cope. How the people yelling at him and spitting on him when he returned from duty haunted his days and created an almost unbearable anguish and tremendous suffering. He kept it to himself. From the onset of the disability, it took the Veteran’s administration nearly 6 years to get him competent services and medications that were fractionally helpful. During that time and for most of his life, his new wife and baby were traumatized by his unpredictable behaviors, angers, and suicidal behaviors.
Thirty Days With My Father is the story of a five year old child being traumatized by the rages of her veteran father and how she coped with secondary generational PTSD when there was no notion that this war was affecting the families and their home life with such drama and infection. It is a story about how a child learned to cope and her defense mechanisms and isolation because she could not tell and had to keep up appearances.
This is also a story about America’s addiction to fear. It is driven into the very fabric of life and then often exploited in small rural communities because they do not know and do not explore beyond their ken. In this case, the Bible thumping, loud preaching of the family’s church also contributed to their dismay as it add confusion and “sin” and “saved” values to their already overwhelming burden and perpetuated their silence. When her father first came home from Vietnam and was working to support the family, women walking down the street would change to the other side; just being a Vietnam Veteran meant one was shunned.
Presley does not spare words in sharing her story, she tells her truth, her struggles, her fears, her outcomes, and her relentless pursuit to heal herself and find recovery and health from her experiences. Where she found solace in her learning, she translated that into becoming a teacher and helping others. She had to get free of her family and move away in order to find herself.
“An incredible memoir…and important part of the still unhealed wounds of war” ~Nikki Giovanni – Poet, Writer, Activist
Thirty Days With My Father is about 30 days of phone calls as Presley is defending her thesis and making tremendous strides in her recovery. Her father agrees to talk to her about the war and her childhood for a few minutes each day on the telephone. He has several “episodes” as brought on by the conversation, and yet this is a primary healing experience for him also. They get reacquainted and they come home. The book is written with simplicity of language that I think will make it more of an opportunity for a larger audience.
The book is filled with resources for others who wish to know about PTSD, second generational PTSD, the trauma that families experience after war, and recovery. It is a wealth of information from personal to public. We have come a great distance in understanding war and veteran’s needs, but we truly have a long road ahead of us too. I can understand how this book is already a best seller and I think it will fly off the shelves here in my area. November 1, 2012 was the publishing date for Thirty Days With My Father.
I am not going to rate this book, because I think it needs to be a national read and I hope it will inspire more peaceful thoughts for our future.
I want to thank TLC book tours and HCI books for sharing a pre-print copy of this book with me for review.