Norristown, Pennsylvania, 1958: the only advice Sherry’s mother ever gave was to never marry an Irishman, for if she did, her lot would be her own making, and she deserved all the misery she’d find in it. Twelve-year old Sherry watches from her safe space while listening to her parents’ bristling conversation concerning their recent move from an upscale suburb of Chicago to this one-horse town. Her father sips his scotch and soda cocktail. Her mother leaves for the evening. Sherry keeps a safe distance from her abusive father whose glass of clinking ice cubes grates her nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. He barks an order, Sherry disobeys. He lunges, misses, then chases her down. Sherry’s mother escapes the madness only to find herself back in it when she runs off with her daughters to Chicago to live with Sherry’s Irish-born grandmother. Forced to live in the psychiatric arena of their grandmother’s world creates a new kind of hell fraught with inevitable failure. Sherry and her sister discover early on how to navigate these treacherous emotional storms by keeping family secrets, honoring their mother’s veil of silence. Until one day when it all unravels.
Veil of Silence is a brilliant and honest take on growing up in a dysfunctional Irish family. The author paints a harrowing portrait of loss, poverty, and the tragic consequences of her mother’s battle with the twin demons of mental illness and alcoholism. Survival took resilience, and through it all, Sherry learned to ride that wave of adversity rather than be pulled under by the deluge.