“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.