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Tragically typical in too many ways. Lester Desjarlais' life was destroyed by sexual and substance abuse, an unstable home life and a bewildering again journey through a maze of social service foster homes, mental hospitals and treatment centers. As one witness to the tragedy commented, "Lester Desjarlais didn't kill himself. The system killed him".
Ruth Teichroeb dramatically recreates Lester's short life set against the story of his family and community -- Sandy Bay First Nation near Winnipeg -- and the inquest into his death. Scheduled to last a single day, this ultimately far-reaching inquest closed as the longest in Manitoba history. Covering the events for a local newspaper, Teichroeb soon sensed that behind the recriminations and the politics lay a story that had to be told. Her exploration moved in ever-widening ripples from one boy's anguish to a people's pain -- from the lives of the other Desjarlais children to Sandy Bay itself, to other survivors of abuse who were finally willing to step forward. In the midst of this inquiry, Ruth Teichroeb discovered hope in a few who were willing to break the silence, to speak out for healing and changes to a system in which abused children can become political pawns.
An honest and unflinching look at a complex and sensitive issue, Flowers on My Grove is a courageous bookthat argues for compassion and change.
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