Throughout this journey, with literary grace and humor, English reveals her dark and shocking secrets, and uncovers the forces that have influenced who she’s become—a family and juvenile court judge. Protection from harm:” this is the original Greek definition of “salvation.” As English grows up, salvation drifts farther and farther away from her reality. Rebellion creeps into her life to compensate. Only a misunderstanding enables her escape.
Mormonism provides exotic stories, gospels, and doctrines that come to life in English’s childhood imagination—but she confronts confusing contradictions that are difficult to reconcile. Her attentive and devoted father tries to protect her from an abusive, alcoholic mother, but his love takes a devastating turn. She turns to a billowy Sunday school teacher and an eccentric but devoted grandmother for safety and guidance, but salvation is elusive.
English relives family dysfunction, religious devotion, and personal defiance, to answer some of life’s most universal questions: How do our childhood experiences impact the adults we eventually become? What do we take, and what do we discard from our childhood? How can we learn to forgive? Where can we turn to find authentic love and protection?
English takes us through her tumultuous past and traces the many faces of her journey to protect herself, and eventually others, from harm. A tribute to parenting challenges, religious complications, and forgiving the wrongs committed to us during childhood, this memoir is ultimately a testament to the true meaning of salvation.
About Katharine English
Writers at Work board member, Katharine English, is a retired family court referee and judge who grew up within the Mormon Church in Utah and graduated from Portland State University, Lewis and Clark Law School, and Goddard College, where she earned an MFA in creative writing. English practiced law at English and Metcalf, served on Portland’s family court bench for fourteen years, and was chief judge of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde for seven years. Throughout her career, she was a faculty member of the National Council of Family and Juvenile Court Judges.English has traveled the United States, teaching and speaking on a wide range of subjects to judges, lawyers, child service agency workers, and volunteer advocates. Raised by a Mormon mother and Southern Baptist father, and provided with her professional experience in court, she has a uniquely broad perspective on factors that help children rise from the destructive forces in their lives.