The Broken Scout

Thomas Gregory Stewart. Redemption, $16.99 trade paper (237p) ISBN 978-1-68314-011-5
In this affecting and harrowing but uneven memoir, Stewart recounts being abused by his mother and scoutmaster when he was a Boy Scout. Stewart’s demanding, unstable, and self-involved mother accepted nothing but perfection from her family. Her emotional abuse pushed him to excel in every endeavor, including academics, sports, and scouting. But this compulsion to succeed played into the designs of their neighbor, Bruce, an assistant scoutmaster who used his position to sexually abuse young boys. In shocking detail, Stewart describes both the abuse and Bruce’s combined use of manipulation and seemingly genuine concern. Most illuminating are Stewart’s own conflicted feelings of belonging, disgust, and fear. After 10 years of torment, his escape to college did not release him from the trauma. The second half of the memoir lays out his attempts to cope, including an increasing devotion to Christianity. His attention to detail flags here, though, with the result that his family life, his spirituality, and his three marriages rush together and feel underexplored. The shallow treatment of his landmark case against the Boy Scouts of America feels like a wasted opportunity. The lurid and horrifying detail will arouse sympathy, the overstuffed approach to his later life tempers the impact of this extremely important story. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/13/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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