Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Book Review: I’m No Monster: The Horrifying True Story of Josef Fritzl

I missed last week’s book review so I wanted to make sure I hit it up this week.  And the book up this week is a doozy.  It’s I’m No Monster: The Horrifying True Story of Josef Fritzl by Stefanie Marsh and Bojan Pancevski.  This is a “true crime” novel, so to speak.  It is the story of Elizabeth Fritzl.  Back before Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard, there was Elisabeth Fritzl.  She was born in Austria.  Her father, Josef, began to abuse her at age 11.  At age 18, she was taken prisoner by her father and held captive in a secret chamber in their home for the next 24 years while he repeatedly abused her.  She eventually bore him 7 children.  One died shortly after birth, three were allowed to live freely with Josef and his wife, Rosemarie.  The other three remained with Elisabeth.

The story is an amazing tale of resilience and survival.  I felt like the authors treated the case with a decent amount of respect considering the topic.  The writing was not stellar, but it wasn’t painful to read either, unlike the subject matter. 

The biggest thing I want to stress is that this is NOT Elisabeth’s story.  She has never openly shared her side of things.  The authors researched the family history and tracked the story in the press.  They, from what I remember since it has been a little while since I've read it, never got to talk to Elisabeth or other members of the Fritzl family.

Incidentally, Elisabeth Fritzl does not go by her given name anymore and the new town in which she lives in Austria is heavily guarded.  Much of that protection stems from the local townsfolk.

I can’t say whether or not you should read this book.  It is certainly not for the faint-hearted.  But, if you can handle such difficult subject matter, it can give some insight into crimes like this.

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