Myrtle is beautiful, with a successful career. She has it all – except for love. Multiple marriages to “emotional terrorists” have left her wondering if healthy love can exist for her. After residential school, it seems Myrtle is doomed to what she calls “genocidal love.”
“Genocide has my brother,” Myrtle thinks: “[he] walks the streets talking to spirits and gods, picking butts, eating out of garbage cans, asking for change so he can buy glue and sniff the genocidal effects away.”
Genocide continually threatens Myrtle, too. Struggling for normalcy, she finally has to go back and fully experience what happened, then tell the truth about it to those who were responsible. That means lodging a legal claim, a process almost as destructive as the original abuse. Myrtle’s mental and emotional equilibrium suffers; relationships spiral into cycles of craziness, and she can hardly function at work. The insanity drags on for years.
Abstract Love is a voice from the whirlwind of a profoundly abused person’s mind as she toils toward wholeness and redress. “Your genocidal practice to kill me as an Indian did not work,” she tells the government’s lawyer, “but it did wear me down. It almost killed me.” Myrtle refuses to let the pain have the last word in her life. She fights against history to find hope, and gradually succeeds.
Readers will find it worth persisting through the uneven writing and painful subject matter for this glimpse inside the issues plaguing First Nations communities, and for the message of hope and resilience.
Discussion questions at the end add to the book’s usefulness as a group study resource.
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