★★★★★ Shannon O’Leary’s Out of the Fire and into the Pan is the sequel to her first book, The Blood on my Hands, which details her childhood spent with a terrifyingly abusive father. As a teenager, Shannon, her mother, and her younger brothers moved to the outskirts of Sydney, where they tried to carve a life for themselves free of her father. It soon became clear, however, that he had learned where their new home was, and took to stalking the family as they went about their day. Over many years, Shannon’s life was constantly thrown into shadow by the presence of her father, and Out of the Fire shows how childhood trauma can dog a person even into adulthood. After Shannon starts a family of her own, the abuse takes on a new light, and she wonders if her own children will be safe from her father. Will she ever find peace?
Shannon’s life, it’s safe to say, has been far more difficult than what many of us have ever, or will ever, experience. She was only free from her father after his death, and it wasn’t until that point that she could really start to relax and imagine a life without fear. On top of that, Shannon describes how her abusive past informed her early romantic relationships and led her to pair up with men who were suffering from their own emotional and mental health issues. In spite of this, she went on to mother five young children, and what starts out as an unbelievably bleek story soon begins to shine with the hope of a new generation. Out of the Fire is relentlessly gut-wrenching and almost too wild to believe—but its power comes alive on the page.
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