Rabies Mom by Pat Carroll and Jack McGowan
This book tells the story of Pat Carroll’s failed marriage to Jeanine, a mentally unstable alcoholic and drug addict, and the toll it took on his six children. Shannon, the fourth of six, paid the ultimate price for her mother’s negligence. She died of rabies in a day and age when it is almost unheard of to even catch the disease. Not only did Pat have to contend with the unnecessary loss of his daughter, he had to battle the bias held by family courts that children are best left in the custody of their mothers.
This story is heartbreaking, but I found Carroll to be disingenuous. While his ex-wife clearly has issues, he was by no means perfect. He berates her for her drinking and drug use when he admits to drinking to excess on numerous occasions and using pot. His compassion for Jeanine who was experiencing a great deal of post-partum depression was nearly non-existent. In fact, when pregnancy and childbirth became a threat to her health, he suggested she have a tubal ligation. When she became pregnant with their sixth child, he blamed her for not acting fast enough. Apparently he would rather place blame than to pursue a vasectomy or take precautions of his own.
After reading Rabies Mom, it is clear that Pat Carroll could not focus on a single purpose for his writing. Is this a book to celebrate the life of the daughter Carroll lost? To highlight the injustice of the current family court system? To vilify and place blame squarely on his ex-wife’s shoulders? Because of the amount of energy spent on his wife, I feel the real reason was to point his finger. Carroll went through great pains at the end of the book to justify why he did what he did. He claims that this was all for Shannon and her legacy. I found that very hard to believe given the title.
This book, which isn’t lengthy and didn’t take long to read, could have benefited greatly from a content editor. Once Shannon was in the hospital, I noticed that he kept repeating how much he couldn’t believe his wife’s actions and behaviors. Within the same chapter, for example, he mentioned how competent he found the doctors and hospital staff only to reiterate those statements to a friend over the phone. There was also a lot of hospital detail that could very easily have been left out or condensed. While I understand that every detail and hurt is precious and meaningful to the author, it isn’t to the reader. It’s a nuisance, actually. As such, this story would have been better suited in an article or within a collection of stories by other divorced fathers who have had to battle the courts for the sake of their children.
I wouldn’t recommend the book. A visit to the website would probably be sufficient.
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