BOOK REVIEW: HUNGRY HILL
Carole O’Malley’s mother was dying from lymphatic cancer. There were eight children in the family – seven boys and one girl, Carole, who was thirteen. Carole’s father informed her that he was going into town and taking the boys with him to pick up some cold cuts and other groceries. He told Carole to keep the house quiet and that Rose should be there soon. He also stated the priest may come. If he did, Carole was informed to do whatever he wanted. She was told to “hold the fort”. One thing her father neglected to tell Carole is that the priest was coming to give her mother last rites.
Another thing Carole discovered by accident is that her mother did not know she had lymphatic cancer. Carole overheard some people talking at the wake.
Even though it was not discussed, she knew her father had a drinking problem. It was all too familiar that he would wake up with a hangover and plop two Alka-Seltzers into a glass of water. She also noticed that his behavior changed after a few drinks. She realized her father was starting to treat her as an equal when he began to depend on her to care for the boys.
The father ended up marrying a woman who was abusive to his children. He kept on drinking and eventually died from alcoholism. Carole and her brothers spent a few more years with their abusive stepmother until they were old enough to leave.
Carole O’Malley Gaunt has written a moving memoir which shows how difficult it must have been for her as a teenager to endure all the responsibilities placed on her at such a young age. The saddest part is her father never really paid attention or acknowledged some of the good things that happened to her. She had to do everything for herself like shopping for a white dress for graduation. You can just feel for her because the other children had their mothers to go shopping with them to get ready for this big day. It’s hard to imagine how one could handle such a tragic situation like losing both parents at such a young age and then ending up with the responsibility of taking care of her brothers. It’s nice to see that Carole can now look back at some of the things that happened and be able to smile about them. This is an intriguing read and one that I highly recommend.
REVIEWED BY NANCY EATON
Thanks for visiting!