The Killing Closet

Non-Fiction - Memoir
276 Pages
Reviewed on 03/17/2024
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Killing Closet is a work of non-fiction in the memoir, family life, and inspirational writing subgenres. It is best suited to mature adult readers owing to extensive discussions of domestic violence and child abuse. Penned by author V.L. Brunskill, this poignant memoir recounts the author's tumultuous upbringing on Long Island, New York. Adopted into a family marred by violence, Vicki-Lynn and her brother Peter endure a harrowing existence until she finally seeks refuge in a domestic abuse shelter after years of defending her mother and brother. The narrative delves into the complexities of family dynamics, including the hidden gender identity of the author's adoptive father, Jo Selbach. Following Jo's death, Brunskill embarks on a journey of self-discovery and understanding, grappling with the truth of Jo's identity.

Author V.L. Brunskill's memoir is a testament to the human spirit's capacity to overcome trauma and find redemption, leaving readers both moved and inspired by her courageous journey. Through raw and unadorned prose, this honest and harrowing memoir offers a compelling portrayal of resilience, forgiveness, and the enduring power of hope in the face of adversity, in a narrative that walks a fine balance between the shocking reality of abuse, and never being too gratuitous just for the sake of it. The facts are balanced by Brunskill’s confident, calm narration, which is an inspiration in itself to those seeking to someday also be brave enough to face their demons and discuss trauma with such a well-measured approach. Overall, The Killing Closet is a must-read for anyone seeking to explore the damage done by parents who rule with fear and violence and is a beacon of hope for survivors everywhere.

Asher Syed

The Killing Closet by V.L. Brunskill recounts the author's turbulent childhood marked by abuse and trauma. Raised by adoptive parents, Joe and Lillian, Brunskill reflects on her father's volatile nature, deceit, and abusive behavior toward her mother. Despite hardships, including multiple miscarriages and rejection due to their marriage, Joe and Lillian adopt a baby girl, Vicki-Lynn, the author. Enduring their father's abuse together, Vicki and her brother Peter find solace in each other's company. After leaving the abusive household, the family faces homelessness and legal battles with their father. Despite attempts at reconciliation, Vicki maintains boundaries, coming to terms with her father's transgender identity, Joann. Reflecting on Joann's death, Vicki finds closure and emphasizes the importance of faith in overcoming adversity.

The Killing Closet by V.L. Brunskill is a courageous memoir that is often difficult to read but is also occasionally uplifted by moments of happiness. We know that Vicki, the author, has survived to tell her story and this is what keeps us turning the pages, along with her raw and honest writing style that comes across as conversational, like talking to a dear friend. I did get choked up a lot, and one memory that Brunskill describes made me physically ill, but the strength that Vicki has, when she should not have the burden of shouldering it, is remarkable. There are as many different types of trauma as there are therapies to try to soften the pain of them, and I think that, regardless of what the individual wounds look like, it is books like Brunskill's that show us there is light at the end of the tunnel. I'm just so sorry she was in the tunnel, to begin with. Very highly recommended.

Grant Leishman

The Killing Closet is the harrowing true story of author V.L. Brunskill’s childhood and life, surviving the worst of parental abuse from her father. Growing up in Long Island, New York, where author Vicki-Lynn and her brother Peter were both adopted as infants into the Selbach family, early childhood memories of a loving, fun, playful father soon turn to horror as Jo Selbach begins to reveal his short temper and true violent nature to the children’s mother as well as to them. Trying to defend her mother and brother for almost a decade from her father’s anger, Vicki-Lynn even contemplates the possibility of murdering her father to escape the horrors. Finally, as things spiral out of control, her mother seeks sanctuary at a domestic abuse shelter and they begin to rebuild a life of normalcy and safety. Years later, Vicki-Lynn discovers the gender secret her adopted father was hiding all his life that might begin to explain his anger at the world and life, and by proxy at those he was supposed to love and care for. Finally, after many years of confusion and hatred, it takes the death of Jo Selbach for Vicki-Lynn to fully come to terms with the journey she has been on.

The Killing Closet is raw, emotional, and incredibly powerful. Author V.L. Brunskill has superbly conveyed the feelings of a little girl when the person who is supposed to be her protector and hero turns out instead to be a violent monster. One can only speculate about the things that happened within her mind to see murdering her father as the only solution to rid the family of pain and suffering. I particularly appreciated how mature and confident this young girl was to be able to take control of the situation and deal with it, without totally falling apart. The relationship between Vicki-Lynn and her brother Peter, given that they were both adopted and not blood-related, was especially close, even more so because she appointed herself as his protector from her father’s worst excesses. It was easy to understand her anger and indeed hatred toward her father but I was equally moved by her ability to recognize, later in life, the stresses that her father faced over his sexuality and his need to express himself in a dominant, macho manner, which for him took the form of anger and violence. Although forgiveness was always going to be difficult, she was at least able to understand more of her father’s state of mind. The most poignant part of the story arrives at the end, where the author sums up her feelings with the statement: “All that remains of my father are wishes.” That she was finally able to come to terms with the man who was her father is a testament to the author’s courage and perseverance, something which shines from every page of this memoir. This is a memorable story that will linger long in my mind. I can highly recommend this read.