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Where Silence Ends: A Memoir

by Angela Ruiz & Mary Ruiz

Rating: ****

Where Silence Ends tells the story of the sexual and physical abuse suffered by Esperanza Madero from aged three at the hands of her Father, Hector, and which was enabled by her Mother, Carmen. Three out of four of Esperanza’s brothers were unaware until Esperanza, now an adult and mother of three, decides it is time to end the silence. This is her story told by her second daughter, Amelia.

Where Silence Ends is a powerful book that leaves the reader feeling both hopeless and hopeful. Hector Madero was a depraved monster who was allowed to perpetrate atrocities on his only daughter. He did also physically abuse his youngest son, Daniel. The physical acts and their damaging legacy are the core of this memoir but also is the silence and the shame that surrounds his victims – and there were many, not just his daughter. Esperanza’s journey from abuse victim to survivor is compelling. It is understandably not the most light-hearted of reads but the memoir is told in a reassuring tone which does not dwell on the abuse itself, yet does not dilute the vile, incomprehensible behaviour of Hector Madero. Esperanza’s openness and willingness to confront her Father in a completely honest, transparent and candid manner cannot be underestimated and her frank nature is in stark contrast to the deeply hidden and buried world of abuse she once inhabited but refused to be defined by. The impact her revelations had on her brothers who, aside from Daniel, knew nothing was seismic. It was hard for the brothers and their wives to fully accept and incredibly difficult for Esperanza to cope with burdening them with the ghastly knowledge that their father was a violent, predatory paedophile.

It is difficult to be entirely objective when you read this book; there are elements that anger and frustrate. Aside from Hector, Carmen was both enabler and facilitator and that is impossible to excuse. Not only from the abuse that she allowed of her own daughter but her daughter’s friends. Despite odd flickers of remorse, she never really explains, apologises, however lame that would be, or condones Hector’s behaviour. The issues that occur with Esperanza’s eldest daughter, Valentina, are heart-breaking and difficult to come to terms with although it is the abuse she suffers that provides the main catalyst for the silence to be resolutely broken.

From a technical aspect, the prose is, in parts, a little repetitive and there is a lot of superfluous descriptive detail that is not always necessary in the narrative. It was interesting that, as Esperanza becomes stronger, the writing becomes stronger and there are some beautifully insightful passages towards the end of the book. Notwithstanding the subject matter, the sense of family that is conveyed is completely immersive and very personal. The Mexican culture is the root and colour of this memoir and is wonderfully realised. The family photos were a poignant addition and, in many ways, it was a brave move to include them.

It is clear that aside from Esperanza finding her voice, an overwhelming reason for this memoir is to help and encourage other abuse victims to speak out. Her compassion, strength and forgiveness are humbling and thought-provoking. Where Silence Ends is a compelling, courageous and emotive memoir that tears through generations of permissive silence. Highly recommended.

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