When the Piano Stops: A Memoir of Healing from Sexual Abuse

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Overview


Catherine McCall appeared to have all an American girl could want: well-to-do cosmopolitan parents, a private education, a strong faith foundation — even two baby grand pianos at her fingertips. But beneath this perfect façade, her family hid a horrific secret. No one could have guessed there was an actual torture chamber in the basement of 763 Montgomery Place, or that McCall was being raped repeatedly by her father. And by the age of eighteen, she didn’t know either — she had repressed every memory of abuse. ...
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Overview


Catherine McCall appeared to have all an American girl could want: well-to-do cosmopolitan parents, a private education, a strong faith foundation — even two baby grand pianos at her fingertips. But beneath this perfect façade, her family hid a horrific secret. No one could have guessed there was an actual torture chamber in the basement of 763 Montgomery Place, or that McCall was being raped repeatedly by her father. And by the age of eighteen, she didn’t know either — she had repressed every memory of abuse. Twenty years later, married and with children of her own, McCall's memories began to return.

When the Piano Stops is McCall's revealing memoir detailing the abuse she suffered at the hands of her mentally ill father and her remarkable recovery as an adult. Now a highly successful family therapist, her ability to overcome the dark years of childhood is an inspiration to those who have been sexually abused. Her prose is lucid, with early events narrated from the perspective of a child, giving her story a stark authenticity and immediacy.

A true survivor memoir, When the Piano Stops is poised to change the face of literature on the topic of sexual abuse.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
McCall's recollections of sexual abuse at the hands of her deeply damaged father add little literary merit to the already-overflowing shelf of survivor memoirs..Not that her experiences weren't chilling. Raised by a well-to-do family in Brooklyn, the author tells of suffering through years of sadistic abuse from her egomaniacal and occasionally psychotic father, while her increasingly alcohol-dependent mother mainly turned a blind eye. She describes the visits her father paid to her bedroom, all the while ardently whispering in her ear, "Nothing's happening, Catherine. Nothing's happening. And if you think anything is happening then you're crazy." This sickening induction into sexual activity turned McCall away from the world of the flesh toward the spiritual; she prayed to the saints to save her and her fragile younger brother and sister. Yet her father's injunctions worked, for according to the author and her therapist all these horrific memories remained buried for years. McCall escaped her father's physical advances when she left for college, and the remainder of the memoir chronicles her thwarted early attempts to understand why she couldn't enjoy sex with her loving husband, why she feared visits from some of their male friends and why she was subject to anxiety and panic attacks. It was only when she began to recover images of her father raping her that forgiveness could tentatively emerge, she declares. In the book's introduction, the author's ailing, demented mother pleads with her to "write a book someday and tell them all about it…tell them in a way that will make some good of it. Please.".McCall bears witness in excruciating detail to the horrors that befell her, but readersmay wish for more than just a chronicle of her experiences.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580052672
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/1/2009
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 1,455,730
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 19, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    This is a Very Important Book by Kaolin kaolin@spiritjourney.biz

    Reading "When the Piano Stops: A Memoir of Healing from Sexual Abuse" by Catherine McCall is like taking a walk, a very long walk down a road you have never been on before. On this road you will be exposed to both daring and humbling nuances of a child who experienced many kinds of abuses at the hands of her father and mother.

    The title "When the Piano Stops" has to do with McCall's father, who played classical piano.

    There are many reaons why this book is very important. One reason is because you won't want to miss how McCall measures her development and ensures her survival by stepping out of her anxiety and in to the arms of both the therapeutic and clinical community combined with the theological world of faith, hope and charity, in order to regain her composure. In this effort McCall manages to let a once fragmented and torn apart self achieve wholeness.

    Another reason is because McCall gives new meaning to the word
    "daughter" and makes great use of her faith in this work. But more importantly she also shares her pain and revelations with us through the demonstration of her trust in a "sisterhood" through the friendships she develops with many women. The first one is with her grandmother. McCall's portrayal of their love for one another is so vivid it is absolutely stunning. In addition, her long-time therapist, Mary Anne played a pivotal role in her healing.

    And we must also appreciate that as a licensed Family and Marriage Therapist, McCall reveals the intimate details of her marriage to Peter who was stalwart in his devotion to her and their family during many a crisis. Yet one needn't confuse those strengths with perfection. McCall is not interested in painting prettier pictures of reality for us, not after what she has lived through. Her book is raw, as raw and as fresh as the graphic images of the story she needs to tell ... so be prepared to enter the world of elder care, death, grief and redemption and by the time you reach the end of the road you will draw your own conclusions about Catherine, her family, and her faith but I can assure you that you will probably not see sexual abuse survivors in quite the same way you had before you opened her book.

    This work is a feminist work of art with a deeply moving Epilogue, Appendix, an extensive Bibliography, Acknowledgements and Group Discussion Questions.


    Kaolin is the author of a forthcoming book from Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, Inc. titled "Let's Talk About Race". Kaolin also sells Spirit Journey Photography and writes on many topics. You can reach Kaolin her at kaolin@spiritjourney.biz

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    Posted March 11, 2009

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