Follow Here To Purchase Peter's Lullaby: A Song Without Words That Held a Little Girl's Life Together

Author: Jean Fowler

Publisher: Daisy Chain Publishing, 2005

ISBN: 0-9771975-0-6

When 20th century journalist and author Herbert Ward wrote “Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime”, his intent to highlight the lifelong difficulties that abused children faced fell mostly on deaf ears and would continue to do so for a long time to come. It is because of this shameful past that authors like Jeanne Fowler have such heart wrenching tales to tell.

In her memoir Peter’s Lullaby Fowler recounts what it was like growing up with an alcoholic and abusive mother and a seemingly browbeaten and at times reticent step-father. The memoir begins with the author describing the last few moments of being ‘hung’ in her closet before police and firemen arrived to rescue her and her siblings from unbearable torture. Fowler describes with great detail the blood soaked cloth that held her wrists tied above her head and the resulting pain to her shoulders from having to endure such a position repeatedly. In this opening chapter we are given a clear picture not only of the physical abuse suffered but also the psychological damage done to her and her siblings.

As the author’s sister Jill screams terrified at the sight of the officers and their attempts to rescue them, it is Fowler’s words that help us to understand the twisted and scarred mental landscape that is the abused child’s mind. From this first chapter, the author moves to telling her story in chronological order having advised readers of her reliance upon official records to make up for information not remembered or never before known to produce a coherent story.

We follow the author through her earliest memories as a three year old child being beaten with a belt by her mother for some unknown reason, to the birth of her brother Peter, and what she and her siblings had to endure at the hands of mentally unbalanced alcoholic mother. Like so many other children in similar situations, Fowler and her siblings had come to the attention of the authorities thanks to reports from family and neighbors but ultimately, the parents’ right to their children trumped the needs of the child. Early on in the book we learn that little Peter has found a coping mechanism which allows him some relief from the daily torture.

Young Peter has made up a wordless lullaby which he frequently hums to himself following the savage beatings meted out by his mother. Fowler recognizes the lullaby for what it is and encourages Peter to use it partly out of love for her brother and a desire to help him find an escape and partly for herself as reassurance that Peter has managed to survive another hellish day. Early on in the book we come to the events that lead to Fowler and her sibling’s rescue and to the death of her brother Peter. In these chapters, the author recounts in ghastly detail the wicked and methodical torture used by her mother to punish her and Peter for the crime of being hungry. It is sad to think that any child would be punished for such a thing; it is heartbreaking to think that it would cost a child their life. Following

Peter’s death and the arrest of both mother and step-father, we follow the author through foster placements both good and bad. We are re-introduced to foster parents who show love and compassion and the promise of a bright future only to learn that all hope is snatched away by a serious illness. As the author is moved from one foster placement to the next, she shows us the fear and mistrust that are the inevitable end products of an abusive and chaotic childhood. Like so many children in foster care during those years, Fowler was subjected to more abuse that went undetected due in large part to the neglect of social service workers in following up on the progress of their charges.

Yet despite the continued abuse at the hands of foster parents, the author shows an inner strength that ultimately allows her to face down her tormentors and reclaim some semblance of self-worth. Reading Peter’s Lullaby one gets the sense that the story is less about the awful circumstances that led to a little boy’s death but more about the author’s courage to survive a nightmarish childhood with the help of her brother’s memory and his haunting wordless tune .

Follow Here To Purchase Peter's Lullaby: A Song Without Words That Held a Little Girl's Life Together