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Book Review: Infinite Ripples


Infinite Ripples: Skeletons Beyond the Grave. Joseph Summerville. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, March 13, 2018, 316 pages.

Reviewed by R. H. King Jr. 

The Bible tells us that the sins of the father will be visited upon the sons. This memoir brings home that point in stunning detail, as the author describes a journey through several generations of abuse and emotional turmoil from which he struggles to escape. 

The author’s father is a literal Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is a well-respected doctor with a wife and children, a true pillar of the community. But just below the surface, there is an irrational, volcanic temper that, behind closed doors, inflicts tremendous emotional and even physical abuse on his own family. There is a terrifying recounting of the father chasing one of his sons around the house with a loaded pistol; if the author had not misdirected his father’s pursuit, the other son would have certainly been shot. 

The first half of the book is devoted to bringing this monster to life, and telling the story of a heinous murder of a teenage girl that the author is convinced his father committed, and from the details provided, it seems likely that the father did commit the crime. I liked this part of the book the best. It was as engrossing as any crime novel, and written in a conversational style that made the pages fly by. 

The remaining half of the book describes some of the emotional scars that the author tries to deal with that have been caused by being raised in this caustic environment, including a date rape. This part of the book is more difficult to read because it is describing the author’s deeply personal struggles to overcome his upbringing. It also includes attempts at reconciliation with the author’s mother and father, and his own son. Although it may have been very cathartic for the author, this part of the book seemed longer and more repetitious than was necessary. 

Memoir is a tricky genre. If the life story is not interesting enough, there is a tendency to slip into self-absorption. This memoir certainly does not suffer from the first problem: it tells a riveting story, at least for the first half of the book. But it does suffer somewhat from the self-absorption problem in the back half of the book. Overall, however, a good read.        


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