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Chosen: A Memoir of Stolen Boyhood

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"An unparalleled achievement, a work of shattering, almost unbearable radiance. I did not stop crying throughout. For Mills. For my young self. For all of us who have lived and continue to live in that pitiless abyss of childhood abuse. To read this courageous book is to be transformed utterly by Mills's empathy, resilience, and grace. Mark my words: Chosen is destined to "An unparalleled achievement, a work of shattering, almost unbearable radiance. I did not stop crying throughout. For Mills. For my young self. For all of us who have lived and continue to live in that pitiless abyss of childhood abuse. To read this courageous book is to be transformed utterly by Mills's empathy, resilience, and grace. Mark my words: Chosen is destined to be a classic because this is a book that will save lives." —Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao At thirteen years old, Stephen Mills is chosen for special attention by the director of his Jewish summer camp, a charismatic social worker intent on becoming his friend. Stephen, whose father died when he was four, places his trust in this authority figure, who first grooms and then molests him for two years. Stephen tells no one, but the aftershocks rip through his adult life, as intense as his denial: self-loathing, drug abuse, petty crime, and horrific nightmares, all made worse by the discovery that his abuser is moving from camp to camp, state to state, molesting other boys. Only physical and mental collapse bring Stephen to confront the truth of his boyhood and begin the painful process of recovery—as well as a decades-long crusade to stop a serial predator, find justice, and hold to account those who failed the children in their care. The trauma of sexual abuse is shared by one out of every six men, yet very few have broken their silence. Unflinching and compulsively readable, Chosen eloquently speaks for those countless others and their families. It is a rare act of consummate courage and generosity—the indelible story of a man who faces his torment and his tormentor and, in the process, is made whole.


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"An unparalleled achievement, a work of shattering, almost unbearable radiance. I did not stop crying throughout. For Mills. For my young self. For all of us who have lived and continue to live in that pitiless abyss of childhood abuse. To read this courageous book is to be transformed utterly by Mills's empathy, resilience, and grace. Mark my words: Chosen is destined to "An unparalleled achievement, a work of shattering, almost unbearable radiance. I did not stop crying throughout. For Mills. For my young self. For all of us who have lived and continue to live in that pitiless abyss of childhood abuse. To read this courageous book is to be transformed utterly by Mills's empathy, resilience, and grace. Mark my words: Chosen is destined to be a classic because this is a book that will save lives." —Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao At thirteen years old, Stephen Mills is chosen for special attention by the director of his Jewish summer camp, a charismatic social worker intent on becoming his friend. Stephen, whose father died when he was four, places his trust in this authority figure, who first grooms and then molests him for two years. Stephen tells no one, but the aftershocks rip through his adult life, as intense as his denial: self-loathing, drug abuse, petty crime, and horrific nightmares, all made worse by the discovery that his abuser is moving from camp to camp, state to state, molesting other boys. Only physical and mental collapse bring Stephen to confront the truth of his boyhood and begin the painful process of recovery—as well as a decades-long crusade to stop a serial predator, find justice, and hold to account those who failed the children in their care. The trauma of sexual abuse is shared by one out of every six men, yet very few have broken their silence. Unflinching and compulsively readable, Chosen eloquently speaks for those countless others and their families. It is a rare act of consummate courage and generosity—the indelible story of a man who faces his torment and his tormentor and, in the process, is made whole.

30 review for Chosen: A Memoir of Stolen Boyhood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Edit update — I’ve been thinking about this book a lot - had several conversations with Paul. I went ‘looking’ for editorial reviews from the Jewish Council (couldn’t find one - but think there needs to be one)…. I had a hard time reviewing it - So let me just add this… I honestly think it’s one of the best books ever written from a male or female— but especially a male in both on the subject of childhood abuse —- Really an important book for parents - teachers - friends - victims — in understand Edit update — I’ve been thinking about this book a lot - had several conversations with Paul. I went ‘looking’ for editorial reviews from the Jewish Council (couldn’t find one - but think there needs to be one)…. I had a hard time reviewing it - So let me just add this… I honestly think it’s one of the best books ever written from a male or female— but especially a male in both on the subject of childhood abuse —- Really an important book for parents - teachers - friends - victims — in understanding deeper ways we can all be an advocate for justice - Very compassionate writing - but also as real as the facts of the anatomy of our human bodies — Towards the end of this book - is what I find harder talking about than even the yucky sexual graphic closer to the beginning of the book — Because one sees how CRAZY HARD it is to stop the devastating evil — I admired Stephen Mills for his commitment to speak out!! An advocate for child abuse. But even NOW… in 2022 there are people - leaders of Churches- Temples - and ordinary people so afraid to talk about what needs to be talked about — Sexual abuse is still being swept under the rug. It really needs to stop!! I hope more people read this book -even older teens - so they too can learn why they should not keep quiet. Audiobook….read by Stephen Mills …..10 hours and 55 minutes I kept listening to this memoir - about male sexual abuse - a coming of age true story written so tenderly but brutally criminal - secretive brutal - it shakes me to the core… just trying to express it - write about it… (review it?- is that what we call it?) I kept listening to Stephen Mills read his story because I didn’t know how it would end for Stephen and to the evil - mentally disturbed adult - who manipulated him with candy, CD’s, gifts, and special bonding one-on-one ‘coach-type’ mentoring Stephen between the ages of 13 and 15 - while giving him blow jobs. Sorry for being so blunt - but this memoir is blunt - sexually graphic and honest to the point - most readers (as was for me) - will make one feel so sick - so appalled- that we (readers) are not sure what we are to do with this much in our face truth. Stephen was almost hypnotized — stripped from his own clarity of who he was —between right and wrong - This adult sexually abusive man tried to be giving to Stephen while taking his innocence… What I didn’t expect to read — is where the story turned— starting with college - and Stephen’s increase interest in more traditional-conservative-study of Judaism and the Torah … yes…. obviously Stephen was beginning to look for answers in ways to heal his own experience of unworthiness—which was rising to the surface. But… I never knew where this story was going and how and if Mr. Evil died… or was in jail … or if Stephen was going to hit rock bottom? Get into drugs? Abuse others? Help others? I just didn’t know all the cycles coming down the pipes before coming to this written book itself. So… there ya have it — I clearly can’t share anymore ‘about’ the entirety of this story…. other than to say — it’s powerfully written - ‘profoundly’ affective in exposing the hidden shame, fear, uncertainty, guilt, avoidance, and traumatic stress - entangled with normal every day living - for men who have been sexually abused — There is no simple answer as to why adults fail to protect children from sexual abuse — but there is no excuse!! But — often ‘some’ other person is suspicious that sexual abuse is happening- yet they don’t speak up either. The person being hurt might feel more anger at the person who didn’t protect them than the abuser. The complexities, cautions and consequences run deep. In Stephen’s memoir- as he offers up his true story — he gives us a personality profile of his abuser - not an obvious creepy guy — but somebody Stephen respected. Stephen also offered up perspectives and useful information of bystanders who failed to protect from harm… not excusing their wrongdoings—but why in the world did they remain silent and do nothing if evidence was even ‘slightly’ suspected. Acknowledging betrayals of sexual abuse is complex — and so horrifically tragic. Victims such as Stephen often felt he was partly responsible— and came to have a state in pretending and even believing that behavior must’ve been okay.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nina Sankovitch

    Stephen Mills' shattering and compelling memoir left me indelibly marked. It is a powerful read but also a very read-able book. Mills writes beautifully about terrible terrible events. His searing portrayal of the layers of grief, anger, guilt, bewilderment, and helplessness capture so vividly the lasting trauma of child abuse. That any child had to endure what Mills went through is heartbreaking; that (tens of?) thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of children go through it every year is a terrib Stephen Mills' shattering and compelling memoir left me indelibly marked. It is a powerful read but also a very read-able book. Mills writes beautifully about terrible terrible events. His searing portrayal of the layers of grief, anger, guilt, bewilderment, and helplessness capture so vividly the lasting trauma of child abuse. That any child had to endure what Mills went through is heartbreaking; that (tens of?) thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of children go through it every year is a terrible crime against humanity. That our laws are so inadequate still, and our understanding anemic, is so frustrating. Mill's book will hopefully contribute to helping children and adults heal, and push all of us to do better in protecting children.

  3. 5 out of 5

    SundayAtDusk

    The Me Too Movement has clearly shown there are countless females who never told anyone they were sexually abused back when it happened. What about males, though? One imagines the number of males who haven’t talked is even higher than the number of females. Males are less likely to talk about such things; more likely to do violent self-destructive things, including killing themselves; and more likely to be accused of being a willing partner to what happened to them, even though they were childre The Me Too Movement has clearly shown there are countless females who never told anyone they were sexually abused back when it happened. What about males, though? One imagines the number of males who haven’t talked is even higher than the number of females. Males are less likely to talk about such things; more likely to do violent self-destructive things, including killing themselves; and more likely to be accused of being a willing partner to what happened to them, even though they were children when it happened. There are actually perverts out there who will post online in books or movie reviews that those prosecuted for victimizing boys are the actual victims. Hence, there has never been a better time for books, such as this memoir by Stephen Mills, to be published. The memoir shows how a boy can get caught up in a web spun by a pervert who weasels his way into a boy’s family, and makes himself seem like a caring father substitute. While Mr. Mills had a stepfather and there was no animosity between them, the death of his father left a void in his soul. A void that a highly respected social worker and camp director recognized, and realized that this was a boy who would make an excellent target. A boy who would likely keep silent. He actually was one of many boys victimized by a man who was never brought to justice, except by his eventual death from throat cancer. The memoir shows, too, the way childhood sexual abuse and exposure to pornography can slowly rot away the heart and soul when not exposed to the light. It shows how rage can be simmering in the mind until the day it explodes and the abuse must be exposed, must come to the surface and be dealt with once and for all. Hopefully, others will follow Stephen Mill’s courageous example and not let abuse destroy them one way or another. Not let perversion become acceptable and passed off as not really damaging. This goes for both “straight" males and “gay” males. Those labeled “gay” can have additional obstacles because they are often told their sexual abuse is or was actually love, and to not think so is wrongly applying “straight” standards to “gay” people. No, sexual abuse is sexual abuse. It is morally wrong and a crime. Sexual abuse of a child is the worst type, too. Unfortunately, as Mr. Mills showed in this memoir, crimes do not always lead to convictions in court, or even the loss of jobs. Those who victimized children are often aided and abetted by their fellow perverts, or by organizations more concerned about money than protecting children. Organizations such as the Jewish ones mentioned in this story, the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America–all accomplices, all guilty of aiding and abetting for one reason or another. It’s definitely time to hold all accountable. Speak out boys and men! Speak or write or do whatever constructive thing you need to do to bring your abuse to the light. Get it out of the dark area of your soul, so you will not be a victim for the rest of your life, and you will help others not be victimized. (Note: I received a free e-ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher.)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Becca Culotta

    I don’t *usually* rate memoirs (I don’t like putting a number on someone’s personal experiences), but I want to do my part in boosting this one in hopes more people will learn about it. This book is incredibly difficult to read. But many of the blurbs on the book and within reviews say this book will save lives, and I firmly believe that it will. Stephen Mills so bravely takes the reader through the unthinkable: how he was groomed and sexually abused for years by a man his parents (and he) entrust I don’t *usually* rate memoirs (I don’t like putting a number on someone’s personal experiences), but I want to do my part in boosting this one in hopes more people will learn about it. This book is incredibly difficult to read. But many of the blurbs on the book and within reviews say this book will save lives, and I firmly believe that it will. Stephen Mills so bravely takes the reader through the unthinkable: how he was groomed and sexually abused for years by a man his parents (and he) entrusted to care for and serve as a role model for him. From the moment he stepped foot on his summer camp’s soil when he was 13 he wasn’t safe, and it would be decades before he would be able to confront these demons, the people who failed to protect him, begin his journey to healing, and share his account with the world through this book. Mills writes in compelling prose and a unique voice that changes as he grows. His story is shattering to begin with, but he writes in a child-like voice at the beginning, which makes it even more heart-wrenching and infuriating. There are so many systems that are failing kids, and while these systems have improved over the years, there are still so many ways people in positions of power can abuse that power, and at such a heartbreaking cost. My hope is that Mills’ book will contribute to healing, while exposing these systems and bringing them to justice. Thank you to Henry Holt Books and Stephen Mills for a gifted copy of CHOSEN. All thoughts are mine.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    “This is a book that will save lives” (Junot Diaz) In a culture that prefers to look away, this brave book forces us to not to.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ira Smith

    Powerful and heartbreaking are only two of the many adjectives I can use to describe Chosen, Stephen Mills’ account of a life nearly destroyed by sexual abuse he encountered at age 13 by the head of his summer camp. The abuse continued until he was 15. The abuser wormed his way into the Mills family, becoming a close friend of his parents, and he was always afraid that his parents would find out. Skillfully told, Mills recounts the story of his life, and his terrifying experiences with PTSD broug Powerful and heartbreaking are only two of the many adjectives I can use to describe Chosen, Stephen Mills’ account of a life nearly destroyed by sexual abuse he encountered at age 13 by the head of his summer camp. The abuse continued until he was 15. The abuser wormed his way into the Mills family, becoming a close friend of his parents, and he was always afraid that his parents would find out. Skillfully told, Mills recounts the story of his life, and his terrifying experiences with PTSD brought on by the abuse. These episodes were very difficult to read emotionally, knowing from our current perspective what the cause was, yet not necessarily known at the time Mills was in therapy. It also recounts his efforts at bringing his abuser to justice. This book should be widely read as it provides a powerful insight into how lives are devastated by sexual abuse. My thanks to Henry Holt and Company and to Netgalley for providing an ARC of this extremely important book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I received a notification of a new Twitter follower one day not long ago and was delighted to find an author named Stephen Mills had followed me. One of his recent tweets made it clear that he was also Jewish (WOOHOO!), so I followed him back and added his book to my TBR. And when Chosen: A Memoir of Stolen Boyhood (Metropolitan Books, 2022) showed up on NetGalley, I requested it. I know I read a lot of emotionally heavy books, but it’s because I believe so much that these are the stories that d I received a notification of a new Twitter follower one day not long ago and was delighted to find an author named Stephen Mills had followed me. One of his recent tweets made it clear that he was also Jewish (WOOHOO!), so I followed him back and added his book to my TBR. And when Chosen: A Memoir of Stolen Boyhood (Metropolitan Books, 2022) showed up on NetGalley, I requested it. I know I read a lot of emotionally heavy books, but it’s because I believe so much that these are the stories that deserve to be heard the most; these are the topics that need to be at the forefront of our discussions; these are what everyone should understand a little more about. And Chosen is no exception to that rule. Thank you so much to NetGalley, Stephen Mills, and Metropolitan Books for offering me a copy of Chosen in exchange for an honest review. Stephen Mills was thirteen, the son of a father who had passed away when he was very young, growing up in an emotionally unhealthy blended family, when the director of his summer camp began spending more time with him. Longing for positive attention and approval (and aren’t we all?), Stephen falls into his trap, and soon Dan is molesting him regularly. Not only is Stephen deeply confused about what’s happening to him, his trauma is furthered by Dan’s weaseling his way into every aspect of his life. His family loves him and has no qualms about sending the young teen on solo trips and foreign vacations with Dan, and without the words to describe what’s going on, Stephen is powerless to stop the abuse. It’s not until college when the trauma begins destroying his life. Still unable to speak about the abuse, Stephen turns to drugs, to religion, to foreign travel, in order to ease his pain, but nothing helps, and the darkness begins to pull him in. As society begins to wake up to the pervasiveness of childhood sexual abuse, Stephen is finally able to understand the root of his anguish…only to discover that those with the power to change things still don’t give anywhere near enough of a damn. Chosen is a painful, heartfelt memoir that doesn’t hold back on raw emotion. Mr. Mills doesn’t shy away from the physical acts perpetrated against him, nor does he sugarcoat the depth of his suffering that the abuse caused. ‘Soul murder,’ Oprah Winfrey has called childhood sexual abuse, and it’s clear from this memoir, from how much Stephen suffered as an adult from the trauma foisted upon him as a child, how accurate this phrase is. As difficult as the subject is, Stephen Mills’s writing flows like the most enjoyable novel. His honest prose is open, accessible, inviting the reader to share his pain for a while, to walk in his shoes and gain just a hint of understanding about what he’s been through. It’s a story of pain, but also one of courage, and ultimately, a demand for change. We have got to do better. More listening to kids, better treatment for survivors, and a never-ending commitment to keeping the monsters who hurt them away from any children whatsoever for all time. We can do better, and we should have started doing better a long time ago. Chosen is proof of that. Stephen Mills was failed over and over again by so many adults in his life, and while he’s written an amazing book that shares his pain and trauma in the most eloquent of ways, I truly wish he hadn’t had to. If you love someone who has suffered childhood sexual abuse, Chosen by Stephen Mills should be on your reading list in order to better understand that loved one, what they’ve faced in trying to heal, and what they’re up against in seeking justice. And if you don’t know anyone who’s been traumatized this way, Chosen should also be on your list – because yes, you do; they just haven’t told you. May Stephen Mills experience continued healing throughout his life, and may justice well up like water, righteousness like an unfailing stream for all survivors. Chosen is available now at all major retailers.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeffisme

    I've known Stephen since we were in third grade. When he told a small group of us last year that he had written a memoir about the sexual abuse he had suffered as adolescent, it left me ashen. How could we have had no clue? How come he couldn't tell us? How could his mother, someone I thought I also knew well and held in such high esteem, have been complicit in this? There were so many questions that have haunted me about this, but that's neither here nor there. What is here is one of the most co I've known Stephen since we were in third grade. When he told a small group of us last year that he had written a memoir about the sexual abuse he had suffered as adolescent, it left me ashen. How could we have had no clue? How come he couldn't tell us? How could his mother, someone I thought I also knew well and held in such high esteem, have been complicit in this? There were so many questions that have haunted me about this, but that's neither here nor there. What is here is one of the most courageous and haunting books I've ever read. After all this is not kind of thing men will reveal, either out of shame that leads one to ridiculously question their "manhood" or our tendency as a society to blame the victim, especially in cases like these. The abuse in many ways derailed Stephen's life. In a high school class of geniuses (myself excluded), he may have been the smartest of all. Who knows what his life might have been if he had not been victimized or if he at least had been able to relieve himself of the guilt at an earlier age. While the abuser escaped justice, for decades Stephen has been pursuing those who who knew about but let it happen to others as well. I hope he gets some measure of justice not only for himself but for the other victims as well. But my point in writing this is not just to recommend this amazing book that you will devour overnight, but to make people aware that there are people around you who no doubt are suffering silently as well. You just don't know and you might not ever know. But if you suffered from abuse, there are hotlines to call that will preserve your anonymity and help you. If someone reaches out to you, be there for them. The fact that they did is indication of what an unbelievable burden such a secret is to bear for life. I'm a journalist. I'd stake my career on Stephen's credibility. Get this book, read it, tell others about it. You'll find yourself like me, wishing he had been able to devote his enormous writing talent to another subject, but in the end I'm glad he had to guts to do this. Sexual abuse is a national epidemic and disgrace that must be stopped now.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    This was really difficult to read, but it delivered a very powerful lesson. Pay attention to your children and how things affect them. And above all, if you see suspicious behavior between kids and adults, say something. Do something. The first third of the book was very graphic describing sexual abuse and the grooming that often accompanies it. The second section deals with the trauma that ensues long after the abuse itself ends. By the last part(the “reckoning”), I could not put it down. I ho This was really difficult to read, but it delivered a very powerful lesson. Pay attention to your children and how things affect them. And above all, if you see suspicious behavior between kids and adults, say something. Do something. The first third of the book was very graphic describing sexual abuse and the grooming that often accompanies it. The second section deals with the trauma that ensues long after the abuse itself ends. By the last part(the “reckoning”), I could not put it down. I hope by writing his story, the author will have some peace at last. I heard your message loud and clear. Parents and adults all need to do better where children are concerned.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sorcha

    Wow. The author lays bare his story in such a way that I could not stop reading. His storytelling is brilliant, beautiful, heartbreaking, and uplifting. I was hooked from the first paragraph.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Whitney | girlmama_and_books

    This book deserves ALL the stars, all the attention and the highest praise. Even better, it’s out today!!! I urge you to pick up this important book, though fully acknowledge that this is not a light or easy read. Warnings that it may not be right for everyone, or right for this moment. So be kind to yourself if that’s the case. Mills sheds his armor to be open and vulnerable about his trauma and sexual abuse at the hands of someone he should have been able to trust. I found the writing style ea This book deserves ALL the stars, all the attention and the highest praise. Even better, it’s out today!!! I urge you to pick up this important book, though fully acknowledge that this is not a light or easy read. Warnings that it may not be right for everyone, or right for this moment. So be kind to yourself if that’s the case. Mills sheds his armor to be open and vulnerable about his trauma and sexual abuse at the hands of someone he should have been able to trust. I found the writing style easy to follow and compelling, the book flowed nicely and the shorter chapters made it feel more manageable with some of the heavier content. As a therapist that mainly works with adolescents… I will say this book jolted me, enraged me, saddened me and most of all inspired me. I tabbed and took notes throughout and appreciated the openness in sharing his journey of healing. I understand Mills wasn’t attempting to write a self help guide to trauma, but it gave a powerful and realistic sense of hope. The statistics on sexual abuse are bleak, and most likely even those numbers are underreported. The trauma of sexual abuse is shared by one out of every six men, yet few have broken their silence. We as a whole need to do better, our children deserve better. I feel honored to receive an early copy of this Memoir, and spent all day trying to process and formulate an adequate review. Thank you @henryholt and @mills for a gifted copy, it will have a forever space in my heart, and on my shelves (home and I’ll be getting another copy for my office). I am hopeful this book brought a sense of peace to Mills, and FULLY believe this will be useful to others as they navigate some of life’s tougher moments.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Martin Goodman

    A gripping and important book that controls the narrative in a masterful way. It gives vivid detail and dialogue, the stuff of a fine novel (so much 'creative nonfiction' claims to utilize novelistic techniques but the result is like a bad novel, and this is an excellent and compelling one).The book knows when to linger on a scene and also when to jump. It's striking how it encompasses a whole life - strong on childhood where the serial abuse of its content happened, but also episodes that bring A gripping and important book that controls the narrative in a masterful way. It gives vivid detail and dialogue, the stuff of a fine novel (so much 'creative nonfiction' claims to utilize novelistic techniques but the result is like a bad novel, and this is an excellent and compelling one).The book knows when to linger on a scene and also when to jump. It's striking how it encompasses a whole life - strong on childhood where the serial abuse of its content happened, but also episodes that bring in cultural history. We readers are given space to work out for themselves the resonances of the abuse. There’s no hindsight along the way, no clinical insights, but instead the book offers a realtime unfolding with all its confusions. Moments of the author’s final understanding, when he’s in effect catching up with the reader, become revelatory. The book helped me to place similar abuse issues in my own life.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Charles Reimler

    Victim’s Exist Whom As Youthful (Virgin) As Adult’s @ Student’s Of “(+Lutheran [email protected]”)” By PH.d Professor Pastors+Lutheran Clergymen+ (Double Life: Public Married With Kids & PRIVATE: Hidden GAY+Grooming Adult [email protected] Lutheran Professional’s) Requires Significant Mental Health Trauma Healings! Obvious Religious Institutions +Public Images+ Are Of Highest Priority, And +Not The Traumatized+([email protected])+Adult Student Victim’s. 🤓Lots Adult People Carry; Hidden Trauma; Untol Victim’s Exist Whom As Youthful (Virgin) As Adult’s @ Student’s Of “(+Lutheran [email protected]”)” By PH.d Professor Pastors+Lutheran Clergymen+ (Double Life: Public Married With Kids & PRIVATE: Hidden GAY+Grooming Adult [email protected] Lutheran Professional’s) Requires Significant Mental Health Trauma Healings! Obvious Religious Institutions +Public Images+ Are Of Highest Priority, And +Not The Traumatized+([email protected])+Adult Student Victim’s. 🤓Lots Adult People Carry; Hidden Trauma; Untold Memoir; Real Life Impacts; Due Protestant Clergyman Institution’s PROTECT Church ⛪️ Image!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn

    As a person who works on child abuse prevention professionally and knows countless survivors of child abuse, my only hope is that every person on the planet reads this and understands why this silent epidemic is truly one of the most important social issues of our time. The book is a work of art. I can’t wait to read it again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shaun Shepard

    This was a sad book. The author's descriptions of the childhood sexual abuse he endured at the hands of his camp counselor was disturbing to say the least. Understandably, this terrible, ongoing abuse affected the author both in adolescence and throughout his adulthood, leading to all sorts of mental and physical health issues that gravely impacted his life. It was difficult to listen to, but it was a story that needed to be told. I would have liked it to be a bit more fast-paced; the story drag This was a sad book. The author's descriptions of the childhood sexual abuse he endured at the hands of his camp counselor was disturbing to say the least. Understandably, this terrible, ongoing abuse affected the author both in adolescence and throughout his adulthood, leading to all sorts of mental and physical health issues that gravely impacted his life. It was difficult to listen to, but it was a story that needed to be told. I would have liked it to be a bit more fast-paced; the story dragged for me, likely in part due to the intense subject matter discussed as well as the way that the memoir was structured. I read a lot about trauma and abuse, but this story was particularly hard to hear for some reason. I think, in large part, this is because it was sexual abuse inflicted upon a male child—a kind of story we hear about less often, despite the many men who suffered this trauma as a child. It was also challenging to hear about how the author's family and community didn't protect him; as an adult and as an educator, I think this was the hardest for me. All in all, a challenging story to hear, but an important one.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Panda Incognito

    This is an incredibly well-written, harrowing memoir about the author's experiences being groomed and sexually abused by the man who directed his Jewish summer camp. The author writes with vivid memory of past events and literary finesse, giving the reader a deeply felt sense of his experiences before, during, and after the abuse. The book includes many explicit details, but they are not gratuitous and are essential to fully understanding what happened to him. Even though this is a very heavy rea This is an incredibly well-written, harrowing memoir about the author's experiences being groomed and sexually abused by the man who directed his Jewish summer camp. The author writes with vivid memory of past events and literary finesse, giving the reader a deeply felt sense of his experiences before, during, and after the abuse. The book includes many explicit details, but they are not gratuitous and are essential to fully understanding what happened to him. Even though this is a very heavy read, I found the book so gripping that I read the whole thing in one night. The author's powerful storytelling and ability to transmit his emotions to the reader make this an especially powerful testimony, and I am grateful for the author's willingness to share about such horrible parts of his life in order to help other victims and raise awareness about the prevalence and immense cost of sexual violence against males.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lori Feldt

    This compelling memoir chronicals the journey of Stephen Mills who was groomed at age 13 by a Jewish camp social worker and subsequently sexually abused by him for 2 years. He recounts with grit and brutal honesty his journey through denial, self-destruction (what a wild ride that phase was!), realization, anger, grief and action that followed. In a time where abuse against boys wasn't spoken of, organizations shielded and protected the abusers and laws to protect the victims were nearly non-exist This compelling memoir chronicals the journey of Stephen Mills who was groomed at age 13 by a Jewish camp social worker and subsequently sexually abused by him for 2 years. He recounts with grit and brutal honesty his journey through denial, self-destruction (what a wild ride that phase was!), realization, anger, grief and action that followed. In a time where abuse against boys wasn't spoken of, organizations shielded and protected the abusers and laws to protect the victims were nearly non-existent; Stephen went on a mission to put a stop to his abuser's decades-long reign of destruction. The book is a heartbreaking but important read with true insight into the depths of devastation caused by abuse and the importance of awareness and action for victims. I am grateful to #henryholtbooks and #stephenmills for the opportunity to read this book as part of a #goodreads giveaway.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Ellis

    This account of sexual abuse is powerful and riveting. But unfortunately, it is another clear example of how boys can be easily groomed and exploited by pedophiles. It demonstrates that men do not just brush this off and go on with life as if nothing ever happened. Rather, this exemplifies that sexual abuse of boys does have life-enduring effects. And thanks to Stephen Mills for sharing this powerful story of abuse, recovery, and life-long journey.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mauri

    Thank you Stephen for the courage and care to write this memoir. It opened my eyes to male sexual abuse and it’s impact . I feel this book should be mandatory for anyone going into a helping profession. I promise to share your story by suggesting people read your book. Congrats for making a good life for yourself in spite of your challenges.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    This story of abuse is told extremely well. The publisher's claim that it is destined to be a classic is a bit of a stretch - it's the sad tale of one person's painful abuse at the hand of another. Mills has managed to tell it in a way that prevents the reader/listener from feeling totally like a voyeur. This story of abuse is told extremely well. The publisher's claim that it is destined to be a classic is a bit of a stretch - it's the sad tale of one person's painful abuse at the hand of another. Mills has managed to tell it in a way that prevents the reader/listener from feeling totally like a voyeur.

  21. 5 out of 5

    TheWholeEquestrian1 BOOKSBOOKSBOOKS

    Trauma and how people deal with it is always gripping. What I found interesting in this book was the physical experiences of suppressed trauma. The story about how we construct our sense of self is important.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laura Galvin

    So beautifully done, I found it unbearable to read. Could not finish.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Roxann

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jan

  25. 4 out of 5

    Trace

  26. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Pearlman

  27. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Pisansky

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marjorie Freedman

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