Running on all Fours

Susan Jean

Denise is the older sister of James. Both have been raised in a dysfunctional family, with an alcoholic, abusive, bully father and a subservient mother. James suffers from Noonan syndrome, which is similar to Autism. Denise has been his defender whenever their father acts out. This is based on a true story, a retelling by a woman of her harsh childhood and adolescence in a dysfunctional family with a mentally challenged brother, in an era where a family’s dirt was swept under the rug. Society did not intervene to protect the children and parents received little to no external support.

Grab the tissues because this story will both tug at your heartstrings for these kids and make you seethe with anger at their father. Young Denise, the protagonist who tells her own story in first person, defends poor James repeatedly. This gripping, raw, honest, and heartbreaking saga will resonate with readers who have lived in in this type of household. While not your conventional fictional story, this book scored high in all categories. It did have a couple of minor typos and lacked a happily ever after, simply due to its content. Dialogue was a recounting of she said-he said of Denise and her family and school connections. However, this eye-opening, sobering, and brutally honest story needed to be told, and Ms. Ricci did a wonderful job of sharing a combination of hard subjects.

Emerson Matthews