“If I Am Missing or Dead”

Occasionally I get emails from publishers offering me the opportunity to review a true crime book, often hoping for a review on the blog. Though I love to read I have resisted in the past. Though the blog started as crimes in the home, the majority of my posting has been on domestic violence and I kind of like keeping it specialized.

The other day I received an email from Simon and Schuster about a book. And in reading the email I was intrigued. The book was about a sister writing about the loss of her sister due to domestic violence. I wrote back and asked for the book.

If I Am Missing Or Dead: A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation is more than that. It is the story of two sisters. Two sisters who have enjoyed success in their lives, yet who become involved in abusive relationships. And as they connect and support each other through those relationships, they give each other the same advice to leave. And they do.

Both sisters struggle, then enjoy successes in their professional lives. Yet in subsequent relationships, they also have similar problems with control and manipulation in their relationships. And as one sister leaves that relationship, the other goes missing.

The true story is told by Janine Latus. It is told from the prospective of sister suffering from the loss of her sibling. Yet it is also told from the prospective of a woman looking back on her own abuse, and with all the questions a woman looking back at her own abusive relationships will have.

She touches on childhood memories that may have had some influence leading to acceptance of the abuse. She tells of the emotions she felt at the time of the abuse. And she tells of the questions and pain the family struggles with after they lost Amy Latus.

It’s a good book. If you have ever had questions about what influences a child to grow up to accept abuse, if you have questions about why a woman would stay in an abusive relationship or if wish to see domestic violence from the inside this is a well written book worth reading. If  you like to read true crime books or if you just like to read, this is a good book to put on your want list. To find out how to purchase the book click here. If you wish to schedule her to speak at a book club, you can find the contact link here.

In the afterword of the book, Janine Latus talks about the courage it takes to leave the relationship and the fact that leaving takes small brave steps. She also offers the assurance that if  you ask, there is help available. And she suggests that if you identify with the people in the book, that you should know you aren’t alone.

She asks for one thing. She asks for a “national conversation about abuse.” She asks for people to talk to women who are not being treated right, and to talk to men about the fact that hitting is never okay.

In the email from Simon and Schuster and in the book, they gave me information about Amy’s Courage Fund. Amy’s Courage Fund is administered by the National Network to End Domestic Violence. The NNEDV is a program that provides education and empowerment programs and helps to fund domestic violence agencies as well as advocating changes in state and national laws. Amy’s Courage Fund itself provides direct financial services to women seeking to leave abusive relationships. At the websites they give more  information about the programs and how to apply for the assistance. A link is also provided to make a tax deductible donation to the Amy’s Courage Fund.

While researching for more infomation about Amy Latus, the book and about the NNEDV I also came across another of Amy’s sisters. Amy Latus’s sister Jane Latus Emmert is a water color artist who has a series of notecards and posters inspired by her love and memory of her sister Amy. She calls the series Angel Clouds and they can be found by clicking here. A portion of the proceeds is to be donated to domestic violence organizations.



  1. gtwl said,

    May 7, 2007 at 6:40 am

    Thanks for the review and blog about it. I am going to purchase this book right now. It intrigues me on many levels. I look forward to getting this one. I will let you know how it goes for me. ~ Holly

  2. juniper27 said,

    May 7, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Oh thank you for posting this. I am going to look for this book to buy.

  3. gtwl said,

    May 7, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    It will arrive Monday : )

  4. Janine said,

    May 7, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    Thanks for blogging about my book. I wanted to let everyone know that I’ll talk to book clubs via speakerphone. I can’t do a ton of them — I have a small child — but I’ll do as many as I can. Spread the word for me so that I can spread it farther, okay? Thanks in advance,

  5. May 8, 2007 at 3:26 am

    Janine, thank you for stopping by. The book was a pleasure to read. I feel you did an especially great job in covering the emotional aspects in the book. The feelings of both an abused woman and of a family who has lost a loved one. Though those feelings can be hard to describe, you got the emotions across very well and you did it much more calmly than I could. You did a great thing.
    I consider it an honor to be offered the opportunity to discuss the book and I wish to thank both you and S&S for the opportunity.
    For anyone who wishes to have Janine Latus to speak at their book club, you can find out how to schedule at this link

  6. gtwl said,

    May 9, 2007 at 7:33 am

    Janine I look forward to reading your book on all aspects and topics it covers. It is VERY personal for me. I want to thank you for writting it even though, unfortunatly, the circumstances aren’t good, the work you have done is (from what iv’e seen so far) Sincerely Holly

  7. gtwl said,

    May 24, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    I finished the book yesterday. It in itself deserves a blog about it on my page. However as a grieving sister I still need a day or 2 to recoup. I was crying right there with you.

    I cried a lot. I’m glad you didn’t let “shame” hush yu and you talked about the sex hold and the looks and the feeling like a piece of meat. This book touched on many aspects it was truly “real.” ~ Holly

  8. Crystal said,

    July 26, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    Hi, I just finished reading the book about an hour ago. I have found it hard to put down since I opened it a couple days ago! It touched me in many ways. My mother was beat by my father for 20 years before she got out, and I am thankful she did because if she didn’t, who knows what would have happend to her, and to me and my siblings. I am married to a man who does not physically abuse me, but puts me down with his words. I am trying to figure out how and when to get out, although I know he would never put his hands on me in any harmful way. But as I was saying before, this book was great and let a lot of people see things that happen to people everyday[that should be stopped], and makes you think twice about keeping quiet about it all, and see that some people are not what they seem. Janine did an awesome job on the book and I really felt like I got to know her though her writing. Rest In Peace Amy. I have shed tears for you, as I’m sure many many others have, too.

    PS. I’m very proud of the fact that you can come out and say the things that have happend to you in your marriage, and you are a true woman for standing up for yourself. Truly insperational!!!!

  9. Thought It Was Over said,

    March 11, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Last night I had the oppurtunity to meet and listen to this courageous woman. It was a very sad and touching story. I really wanted to walk out because I couldnt bear to hear anymore because I started to relive my horrific nightmare all over again. I thought I was over the abuse I had endured for 2 long years. Hearing this story, brought back alot of pain and bad memories. I have never seeked help as far as talking to someone, but now I think it would be a good idea to have some closure. Just wanted to say if you going through anything remotely to this GET OUT ASAP! You are not the only one, talk to someone let them know whats going on. Janie thank you for your story and opening up this dark spot in my life that i buried but the wrong way. God Bless You and everyone who is going or have been through a domestic violence relationship.

  10. Cecile Evans said,

    April 12, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Janine, I’ve just finished your book. Thank you for writing and sharing such a deep and personal story – yours and Amy’s. The most important thing I took away was that abuse is not always what we think . There isn’t always a broken nose or black eye. Sometimes it’s just the way one mistreats another. Also, the history doesn’t have to be violent for the horrible end to be. Therefore, ladies, tolerate no form of abuse in the hopes that it will change. Change your situation before someone else does.

  11. janine said,

    June 23, 2009 at 7:14 am

    Thank you so much for your story, it is very similar to mine. We coincidentally have the same name spelled the same way. I read your book in 24 hours. I could not put it down. It touched my heart and mind in ways that only those who have been there can understand!!!

%d bloggers like this: