The Places Left Unfilled: A Memoir
Independently Published (2020)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (11/2020)
“The Places Left Unfilled: A Memoir,” by M.C. Cauley, is a memoir that reads like a gripping work of fiction, meaning that it has a plot, characters, arcs, conflict, and great dialogue. Although I love reading traditional memoirs, this one is told in more of a non-traditional way–more like a movie script or dramatic novel. As you read, you will discover that the main character, Morgan, is a victim of sexual abuse, and, although her later actions may surprise and shock you, it is common behavior with some child sexual abuse survivors.
What on the surface sounds like a titillating or almost exploitative work of fiction of a “Lolita” nature, is really a bare-naked reality for those who have experienced sexual abuse. I love the psychological aspects of this memoir. The characters and situations explain frankly what is happening and why, and though it may be uncomfortable to read at times, it’s still a way to shed light on the subject so that the audience can come to a greater understanding of the dynamics of childhood trauma. This book is full of triggers, so be warned before reading if you are easily triggered.
Cauley has created a good balance of psychological drama and narrative memoir. The family issues–from Morgan’s neglectful mother, to her absent father ring true. Before you judge Morgan and her actions, just know that the cycle of abuse is real, and isn’t always one-size-fits-all. Morgan craves her father’s attention, and she has been groomed and conditioned to feel a certain way, so she plays the part that abuse carved out for her. This author has presented the sexually reactive child in a way that can be understood. Sex workers often fall into some of the same patterns.
Readers will learn a lot from this emotional drama, and they will be drawn to the characters. You will even find some character traits that you don’t like or understand, but this book is “all in” when it comes to showing character choices and motivations. “The Places Left Unfilled: A Memoir” by M.C. Cauley, is a well-executed story that needed to be told.