Thirty-Seven-Year Abduction

Memoir of a Gay Mississippi Author Finding Himself Again

Non-Fiction - Memoir
284 Pages
Reviewed on 06/13/2023
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Author Biography

Multi-Award-Winning Author Milan Sergent studied creative writing in college and began writing the novel series Candlewicke 13 in 2007 a year after featuring some of the series' characters in his solo art exhibition, titled "Outsiders and Apparitions," near Rockefeller Center in New York City. An artist and poet since adolescence, Sergent's poetic works also won an international book award.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

As a victim of childhood sexual abuse and someone who has mentored other abuse victims as they struggled to write their painful memoirs, I thought I'd heard it all. I believed that nothing else could shock me. Then I read Thirty-Seven-Year Abduction by Milan Sergent. If Sergent had written a horror novel, he couldn't have horrified and saddened me more than this, his memoir of child and adult abuse. I’m not talking about what we usually think of as rape or sexual molestation. Milan’s rape was the long-term violation of a human being, his essence, and his right to be who he was born to be; a gay man. His 37 years of rape began as a result of what, for me, are the archaic religious beliefs of his parents. They continued when a desperate Milan tried to redeem himself in his and everyone else’s eyes through a regular male-to-female marriage and by joining a Pentecostal church.

Thirty-Seven-Year Abduction rivals the best impossible-to-put-down books I have ever read. Milan Sergent has a superb command of language and beautiful control of his pacing and characterization. How he absorbs us into his emotions and makes us feel his deep, ongoing pain is powerful. What Sergent endured for 37 years makes me glad I wasn’t born into an evangelical religion in the deep south. Sergent tried suicide twice. I might have succeeded if his experience had been mine. Sergent spends time at the end of his memoir presenting enlightening information about what I see as a warped practice that began in the early 1900s and continued for decades; that of making boys on swim teams swim in the nude. Did you know that? I was shocked: “Any boy who tried to cover himself was made to feel unmanly or like a nerd.” As Milan shares his closing thoughts on the current narrow attitudes toward LGBTQ, I find myself agreeing whole-heartedly with his statement that “…child abuse is telling children they were born inadequate and sinful and God is watching their every intimate moment and will torture them for eternity in the flames of Hell if they don’t let Him possess them.” My final thoughts on this poignant, gut-wrenching memoir are that I will never forget it. Read it!

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Thirty-Seven-Year Abduction by Milan Sergent is his memoir as a gay Mississippi author who finds himself again. Trapped in the closet, Milan Sergent was severely abused as a child and young adult. His strictly Evangelical family tried to hold him down, continually telling him that gay people were an abomination. Dragging him out of school just before he graduates, they take him on a road trip, telling him they are following God’s plan to live deep below the ground, isolated from everything and everyone, for the rest of their lives. Sergent finally saw the light and followed it as it led him back to life, and now his story is out there for everyone to see, to learn how to put his life back on track after losing nearly 40 years of it in his parents' bid to make him who and what they wanted him to be.

Thirty-Seven-Year Abduction: Memoir of a Gay Mississippi Author Finding Himself Again by Milan Sergent is a harrowing story; real-life ones always are, especially when you’ve been through everything he has. Now a critically acclaimed author, this is his story, no-holds-barred, and it makes for a tough read, understanding how one person has gone from nothing to everything through sheer determination. It is gritty and will bring tears to your eyes at some point, but if you’ve read any of Sergent’s work in the past, it will help you understand him better and look at his books in a new light, especially the Candlewicke series. No one truly understands what another person has been through in their life, and I take my hat off to Sergent for sharing his life with us. A hard story it may be, but it shows that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and that we are all responsible for our own lives.

Amy Raines

Thirty-Seven-Year Abduction: Memoir of a Gay Mississippi Author Finding Himself Again reveals that Milan Sergent hid the truth about who he was throughout his youth. Sergent describes the humiliation and ridicule he faced in school, locker rooms, and gym class. In an attempt to stop his son from being gay, Sergent’s father drove the family from one end of the country to the other in search of a place to isolate his son from everyone and everything. Justifying their neglect, abuse, and cruelty as Christian behavior, his parents forced Sergent to live a life of seclusion. Finally freed, disowned by his parents, and trying to learn to live life on his terms, Sergent discovered that there was an endless world of ridicule awaiting him. Being harassed by the police and gay-shamed by his peers only made him question the principles everyone was trying to brainwash him with even more.

Thirty-Seven-Year Abduction by Milan Sergent describes the abuse he faced as a child that only worsened through adolescence and into adulthood. The truth about hidden love and life is heartbreaking as Sergent recounts the mental, physical, psychological, and emotional abuse he suffered at the hands of those who were supposed to love and protect him unconditionally. I applaud the author’s bravery and convictions and how he searched for ways to flourish in the face of so much controversy about his sexuality. I recommend this memoir to adults who love true stories that take you through the trenches of society and prove that the human spirit can draw inspiration and succeed regardless of what is considered to be normal.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

Thirty-Seven-Year Abduction is a memoir by Milan Sergent. Convinced the rapture would happen soon and determined to convert their son into a heterosexual male, the author’s parents drove him and another couple into the wilderness. Sergent had no choice but to go with his parents when they told him about their plans, even though he was only weeks away from graduating high school. After driving for some time, they settled in a secluded region of Idaho. After a short time, the other couple left the group, and Sergent was able to earn his GED and go to college while living with his grandmother. He marries a woman and attempts to suppress his feelings for decades until he finds an opportunity to speak openly about his true desires.

Milan Sergent was tempted to commit suicide, but he bravely continued his life after an unsuccessful attempt. He shares his troubling childhood under his parents’ control and the environment for a young gay man in the eighties and nineties. Tales of witches, excessive snowfall, the loss of treasured pets, wildlife, and other hardships are told as Sergent recounts his days in the camp his parents created. It was difficult to read about all the tactics parents and others used to scare their children and teens away from homosexuality. The cruelty of certain situations and experiences will move readers to tears. Thirty-Seven-Year Abduction is a good selection for LGBTQ+ teens and adults as it may help them feel more confident about revealing their true selves.

K.C. Finn

Thirty-Seven-Year Abduction: Memoir of a Gay Mississippi Author Finding Himself Again is a work of non-fiction in the autobiography, LGBTQ+, and social issues subgenres. It best suits the mature adult reading audience and explicitly discusses sexual trauma and discrimination. Penned by Milan Sergent, this heartfelt memoir explores the author's journey to face many tragedies and difficulties, particularly in escaping the horrors of gay conversion therapy. The work is a frank discussion of how far families can go to wrongfully ‘correct’ their children and the journey of strength and resilience it takes to come out on the other side of this type of treatment.

Milan Sergent highlights critical issues in this raw, unapologetic memoir. Books like this remind us of the massive uphill climb for full LGBTQ+ rights, visibility, and fair treatment across every country. I was very impressed with the author’s candor and narrative style. It pulls no punches in explaining the full range of horrors that gay conversion therapy inflicts upon young minds when they’re just trying to be themselves, be happy, and be loved. The narrative felt like a dear friend pouring their heart out, and I felt for Sergent and his journey to freedom and self-love. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend Thirty-Seven-Year Abduction to anyone who enjoys accomplished and heartfelt memoirs and anyone looking to broaden their horizons about LGBTQ+ rights and social issues surrounding the topic.