Review of 11 On My Own
By Leticia Velasquez
11 On My Own is a story of one woman’s pain; pain from three failed marriages, betrayal, and abuse, but mostly pain from a source which was created to alleviate it; the Family Court System. A mother of eleven children, deserted by her husband, Kristin Luscia is left without means to support her eleven children in a dilapidated home that is subject to an impending foreclosure. Kristin’s ex-husband owes her over $60,000 in child support, and has paid none of it. Yet the court continues to insist that he has ‘rights’ to see his children bi-weekly, at least those he hasn’t managed to alienate yet. Ted has warrants out for his arrest that haven’t been served, and yet he manages to show up in court unscathed. He is the Teflon Deadbeat Dad. This is the tragically unjust outcome of Kristin’s exhausting three years in the Family Court System of Connecticut.
Rights for men and poverty for women. Sadly it’s a familiar story from my days as a Social Worker at Catholic Charities in New York. One case stands out from 25 years ago; the wife of a cardiologist, living in a mansion without heat, where she and three small children were reduced to living in the living room heated by a kerosene heater, keeping warm under quilts, came to me seeking food for her family for Christmas Day. The not- so-good doctor had fled to warmer climes with his girlfriend, emptying the bank accounts, leaving his wife with nothing but a Bloomingdale’s credit card. You can’t buy food at Bloomies, so her children were well-dressed, and hungry. His lawyer settled the child support while he was on medical leave for an operation, and without income. The doctor had NO obligation to support his children. According to Family Court, two years later, while touring his hospital, the same doctor boasted about his large donations to charity. Bound by confidentiality, I replied icily, “Charity begins at home, pal!” Both men planned the abandonment of their families by cleaning out the joint bank accounts. When their wives fought for support, they discovered that their husbands could afford better lawyers.
Addressing this widespread problem though her personal crisis, Kristin speaks in a colloquial voice as she describes her situation, and takes the reader back to her childhood as an only child of adoptive parents. She tells the story of her troubled marriage to a narcissistic sociopath with candor and without self pity. Far from the latest blame-my-mother book, 11 On My Own is set apart by Kristin’s humble admission of own her role in her disastrous marriages. This as well as the frequent references to Canon Law, Papal Encyclicals, and The Catechism of the Catholic Church, makes 11 On My Own somewhat akin to Confessions of St Augustine, one of two saints to whom she dedicates the book.
St Augustine said:
“I came to You late, O Beauty so ancient and new. I came to love You late … You were with me but I was not with You. You called me, You shouted to me, You wrapped me in Your Splendor, You broke past my deafness, You bathed me in Your Light. . . You touched me, and I burned to know Your Peace.”
“In my past, I had chosen several times to follow Jesus’ path without fully knowing why: I had my babies baptized in the Church and gave my mother a proper burial before I was a practicing Catholic.
Yes, I had also chosen sin through many foolish and poor life decisions. My parents believed in God, yet they didn’t take me to His Church. I had the benefit of graces received in Baptism, but had no idea how to channel them. I am sure that my devout Babci (Polish for grandma) praying in the Church triumphant for my soul was a means of shaping my destiny to begin making the right choices.
There is hope for me, thank God. No sin of mine (or anyone’s) is greater than God’s love. No matter what your past has been, we can begin anew.”
Despite disturbing descriptions of abuse suffered, and intolerable legal injustice, ultimately 11 On My Own is a tale of hope. Hope that the poor sinner reading this book can learn from the hardships that Kristin endured as a result of her own sin and that of her husbands. Hope that readers will then take advantage of the graces bestowed on them through Baptism, and make good confessions in order to live in the grace of God. It’s never too late. If ever there were an important message to a world with a 50% divorce rate, wounded from sin, it’s this one.
Highly recommended for adults and mature teens, due to a sprinkling of four letter words, and sexual references. This may be just the book your son or daughter needs to read before heading into a disastrous life decision.
In the interests of full disclosure, I must tell you that I am the Leticia whom Kristin mentions in the last line of her book, and who wrote the blurb on the book’s back cover.
I came to know Kristin within the past year, through our daughters’ friendship. I was impressed at the purity and holiness of her children, as well as her determination that she would remain faithful to God and not surrender to bitterness, despite the terrible events they have endured. It was the witness of her beautiful family and the enormity of the injustice she has endured at the hands of the courts which prompted me to support her book. May it be a blessing to you.
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Copyright 2010 Leticia Velasquez