This Girl’s Life by Michelle Brown

Michelle Brown’s This Girl’s Life: Being the Child of a War Veteran (Dark Planet Publishing, 146 pp., $22, paper) is a short memoir that focuses on the abuse the author underwent at the hands of her father, a Vietnam veteran.

Brown’s father, Kenneth “Rico” Haugabrook, turned to drugs and alcohol after a tour of duty in Vietnam, Brown writes. And that, in turn, led to years and years of physical and mental abuse the father heaped upon the author, her mother, and her siblings.

Her mother, Brown says, “said my father was a good guy until he came back from fighting the war. My mom said he had totally changed when he returned home. She said my dad was more angry. My father told my mom that he was trained to kill in the war, had watched his friends die, and had to live among rats (one rat bit his toe off).”

Her father, Brown writes, “told my mom he couldn’t love his children, because what if we died on him? He said his family looked like the enemy.”

Brown survived the years of abuse, and her memoir has a redemptive ending. Today, she is happily married, has a strong religious faith, and has come to terms with her difficult upbringing.

“I have learned one thing from my experiences with my dad,” Brown writes. “I can do whatever I set my mind to do. I have learned to respect myself and love myself, no matter what my dad thought of me. I was and am a good person who didn’t deserve what happened to me. Even if my dad didn’t love me, God did! God protected me all those years by not letting my dad kill me.”

—Marc Leepson