Spirit Alive: A Woman's Healing from Cult Ritual Abuse


301 pages
ISBN 0-88961-221-8
DDC 362.7'64'092






Reviewed by Andrea Levan

Andrea Levan is an associate professor and co-ordinator of the Women’s
Studies Program at Thorneloe College, Laurentian University.


Spirit Alive is a personal narrative of one woman’s struggle to
integrate the multiple personalities that emerged as she began to
retrieve memories of childhood abuse by a cult. One approaches a book
such as this, where the name of the author is an admitted pseudonym and
all details of geographical location are deliberately vague, with some
frustration. Lack of concrete facts encourage disbelief. Yet in this
case, the reader’s skepticism works to illustrate and intensify the
confusion and denial with which the narrator must struggle, both
internally and in the world around her.

The result is riveting. Fragmented clues come to us, as to the
narrator, in random bits, hinted-at patterns, and alternate waves of
belief and disbelief. Along the way we come to care for this woman. We
want her to find out what happened, and we want to find out too. But
many key questions are never fully answered. For example, how much was
her family involved? Were her sisters similarly abused, and if not, why
not? How could such practices have been kept secret? In the end, it does
not matter that we do not know; it does not even matter if the details
we have been given are true or not. We have been given an intimate look
into the pain of someone who must struggle to remember, accept, and
leave behind such experiences. If there is a lesson in this book beyond
the value of the human spirit in overcoming great adversity, it is that
we should question our readiness to deny.


Jadelinn., “Spirit Alive: A Woman's Healing from Cult Ritual Abuse,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/3390.