The Dark Side of Life
by Edna Hunt
BookVenture Publishing, LLC

"I was bound and determined that I was not going to let a man control my life like my mother did."

In Edna Hunt’s memoir, The Dark Side of Life, readers are taken through a whirlwind of heartbreaking childhood experiences. Whenever life seems to be tilting in Edna’s favor, an unforeseen event, inevitably and unfortunately, tilts it right back to the dark side. Despite all the negativity, the author’s unwillingness to just give up is one of the consistent bright spots. While this memoir has come into existence primarily due to Hunt’s desire to share her story, it will surely help the audience appreciate the balancing act that keeps one on the light or dark side of life.

A fractured family, stemming primarily from an alcoholic and extremely abusive father, forces Edna’s mother to take multiple jobs to make ends meet. Initially, as a child, Edna describes one of her few bright spots: going to church with her Aunt Nelly. Interestingly, whether it was having her dress accidentally catch on fire, having scalding hot water run down her back, or being molested by her 10-year-old cousin, Edna appeared to always be on the wrong end of things. Essentially, all of the components or stereotypes of a scarred childhood come together, and through the first few chapters, it’s as though anything that could go wrong, does go wrong.

In the depiction of her experiences, Hunt does a remarkable job—almost like she’s reporting on her own life—of staying poised, maintaining a neutral tone, and simply telling her story as it happened. Though she lived constantly in fear of her father, and life packed a lifetime of harrowing experiences in her childhood, she does not fill her memoir with a tone of “woe is me.” Nevertheless, more insight into her own reflections would have added considerably more substance to The Dark Side of Life. With that being said, readers can certainly understand the trauma and difficulty in sharing and perhaps reliving every intimate detail of a painful childhood.

Similar to Roald Dahl’s Matilda character, Edna Hunt escapes into the world of education and learning, albeit temporarily. In the midst of the darkness, there are brief points where we get a glimpse of Hunt’s passion for sports, and her dedication to the unbreakable bonds of friendship she forms with her inner circle.

Beyond her personal life, Edna Hunt sheds light on societal topics as she was growing up during the 1960’s and 1970’s. For instance, bullying in school was just as rampant then as it is now. In one scene, Hunt portrays her sister being held at knife point in the girls bathroom by another student. Such an intense level of bullying may have been more rampant during an era where social media wasn’t available to magnify the gravity of the situation. During the chapters on her father, Hunt states that the Ku Klux Klan got involved in an attempt to get her father onto the right track.

While The Dark Side of Life is clearly a quick read, it manages to give a glimpse into Hunt’s entire family, with the storyline diving into the personal lives of siblings, friends, particularly Chip and Danny, and others who graced Edna Hunt’s life. Though the writing is not spectacular, the story is a worthwhile read because of its authenticity. This story is not about the life of a character, but of a human being who suffered and lived in fear during a time that should have been filled with nurturing and warmth.

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