Monday, August 04, 2008

Nonfiction Monday: The Year We Disappeared

The Year We DisappearedBusby, Cylin and John. 2008. The Year We Disappeared.

Compelling but intense. The Year We Disappeared is not a novel. It's nonfiction. It's the story of what happened to the Busby family in 1979 after the father, a local cop, John Busby, was shot. Told through alternating accounts of the father and the daughter, Cylin, the story is both compelling and intense. I found it was a book that I wanted to read, needed to finish, but at the same time, it wasn't a book that I felt comfortable reading in one sitting. I needed breaks with this one. The intensity of the pain and the emotion got to be too much at times. Very realistic, of course. The book is very honest and straight forward. It doesn't need to sensationalize anything for dramatic effect. The bare facts alone are enough to make this a haunting read.

Here is how the prologue begins:

When my dad dies, his body will go to the Harvard Medical School at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, though I suspect they are mostly interested in his head.

Intrigued yet? It continues,

Before the surgeons there embarked on what was at the time experimental surgery to reconstruct his face, they asked Dad if he would sign a document bequeathing his body to the hospital. They explained that they would then be able to use his skull as a model to instruct medical students training in facial reconstruction. His was an interesting case--the lower half of the his jaw was removed when he was shot in the head with a shotgun. His tongue was torn in half, his teeth and gums blown away, leaving a bit of bone that was once his chin connected with dangling flesh at the front of his face.

I liked the prologue because it let you know from the start that this wasn't going to be a "pretty" and "sanitized" account of crime and its after-effects. The book is full of horror and shock and raw emotion--pain, confusion, anger, frustration, etc.

Other reviews: The Reading Zone, Jen Robinson, Charlotte,
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Anonymous said...

I just bought the book. I was there when it happened. After John Busby was shot he pulled down my street into the driveway of the house next door to me. After that all hell broke loose. I was just looking for reviews and happened upon your blog. I actually blogged about it in January.

I thought you might be interested since you read the book.

Tasha said...

The prologue had me in tears. The description of his jaw and the teeth was pretty horrific.

Anonymous said...

My name is Ryan and I've known John (though we just call him "Busby") for maybe 3 years now. He is such a funny guy, and has such a zest for life that I can't imagine a world without him. Even though I don't work with him now, I'll still drop by now and again to have a little chat with him. And I always leave with a smile on my face due to his jokes and whimsical quotes. I don't know anyone else that can take a fellow co-workers worst day, and turn it into a laugh out loud riot. That's the power of "Busby-ism".

Anonymous said...

Hi, My mom and I saw the John Busby story on 48 hours Live to Tell. It was something else. That town the family lived in ought to have been ashamed as how wrong they treated this family. They didn't want their children to associate with Mr. Busby's children. That was just wrong. They also shouldn't have let Mel Reine get away with what he did to Mr. Busby.