Neglected But Undefeated
Born of rape, and raised mostly by the mother that hated him, Jonathan Anthony Burkett’s memoir Neglected but Undefeated is both a tale of misery and redemption. Beginning with loving grandparents, he is taken from them and sent to live with his mother, who not only despised him, but won’t let him ever forget it. Physical, mental and emotional abuse was so constant, that it eventually led to uncontrollable seizures and hospitalizations. Burkett is unflinchingly open about not only what he went through, but also his thoughts and feelings during that time. He vacillated between wanting to kill his mother or himself, but by the end, finds a religious salvation that provides the shelter he never had when growing up.
Books like Neglected are hard to review. There is an element of voyeurism in reading any memoir, but books with abuse cause an emotional reaction in the reader that’s hard to separate from the book itself. Neglected is written in plain English, with a lot of slang. There are some technical editing needs for the book, but they don’t distract from the reading. Some of the language may be strong for some readers, but the story is an important one, particularly the ability of Burkett to overcome his early life to get to this point of sharing his story. One must also question the system that allowed this to begin, much less continue.
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