Let’s begin by making clear a disclaimer: this is not an easy book, by any means. Deanna M. Lehman’s Kinderwhore is one of the most harrowing things I’ve ever read, filled with a litany of real-life horrors that it makes your toes curl. It’s also one of the best, most powerful things I’ve read in many years – and the staggered facts are that this is from a first-time author and it is her own story.
I couldn’t put it down from the moment I began and finished it within 2 1/2 hours because I sat there, completely drawn in and wanting to know what happened next, always hoping for a better turn in the following chapter. Although this is an autobiography, it’s also a highly graphic and visual series of snapshots and Ms. Lehman’s skill in melding the two is one of her underlying talents. While, if I’m being honest, I wish she didn’t have to write it, Kinderwhore is an emotionally gripping piece of work; riveting and yet, done without the slightest trace of victimization (considering the horrific nature of her experiences). The events of her life are reported beautifully and eloquently in a matter-of-fact manner and it is to her credit that she is able to frame her story in such a way that it makes it have more impact; more punch. I want it to be very clear: this is a graphic tale of child abuse – physical, psychological and sexual; it shows a deeply flawed (so-called) child protection system and brings up intense emotions while reading – it’s impossible.
Ms. Lehman tells her story from birth to age 16; this is the first of a series and already we know she is a survivor. If the next segment is anything like this one, I’m not sure how I will feel afterwards, as I’m guessing it will twist my emotions again. That’s either a curse or a gift, but Deanna Lehman certainly knows the power of her words and Kinderwhore is a stunner of a debut.