Chosen A memoir of stolen boyhood

Stephen Mills

Book - 2022

"At thirteen years old, Stephen Mills is chosen for special attention by the director of his Jewish summer camp, a charismatic social worker. Stephen, whose father had died when he was four, places his trust in this authority figure, who then grooms and molests him for two years. The boy tells no one, but the aftershocks rip through his life: self-loathing, drugs, petty crime, and horrific nightmares, all made worse by the discovery that his abuser is moving from camp to camp, state to stat...e, molesting countless other boys. Only physical and mental collapse bring Stephen to confront the truth of his boyhood and begin the painful path to recovery-as well as a decades-long crusade to stop a serial predator and find justice. Astonishingly, the trauma of sexual abuse is shared by one out of every six men, yet few have spoken out. Chosen is a rare act of consummate courage, the indelible story of a man who faces his torment and his tormentor and, in the process, is made whole"--

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Subjects
Genres
Autobiographies
Biographies
Published
New York : Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company 2022.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
318 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN
9781250823212
1250823218
Main Author
Stephen Mills (author)
  • Predation
  • Flight
  • Reckoning.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Mills (Next of Kin) chronicles his experience of sexual abuse by a serial predator, starting in 1968, when the author was 13. He writes that after his father's death when Mills was four, his relationship with his mother was strained, which he believes made him vulnerable to the predations of Dan Farinella, the director of Camp Ella Fohs, the Jewish summer camp Mills attended in Connecticut. Farinella groomed Mills and ingratiated himself to the Mills family with gifts and boxes of cannoli. Mills's book effectively portrays the feelings of utter confusion, fear, and shame that accompanied each assault by Farinella. He had viewed Farinella as a mentor, someone who cared about his future and lavished time on him; like so many other adolescent victims, he did not initially recognize his encounters with Farinella as abuse. The reckoning came later, and at great cost to his physical and mental health. After experiencing drug addiction, run-ins with the law, panic attacks, and harrowing nightmares, Mills sought help. He was slow to connect his anguish with the abuse and his persistent denial is emblematic of the self-blame many victims carry into adulthood. He eventually attains clarity, but the institutions that enabled Farinella have never been held accountable. VERDICT Important testimony; recommended for all libraries.—Barrie Olmstead Copyright 2022 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Mills (Next of Kin) lays bare in this unflinching account the irrevocable impact of the sexual abuse he suffered as a teen. In 1968, while attending Connecticut's Camp Ella Fohs, 13-year-old Mills was pulled aside by the camp's director, Dan Farinella, for a private talk about masturbation. In the fall of that year, Farinella invited Mills to the camp off-season to "help out with some projects." The sexual abuse started there and continued for years, with Mills silenced by his shame. As an adult, Mills struggled for years to find stability and a sense of purpose, committing petty thefts, taking drugs, studying at a yeshiva, and dropping out of grad school before therapy helped him understand that he had PTSD. Even with that diagnosis, Mills writes, the road forward was full of hurdles, and his efforts to bring Farinella to justice—after obtaining accounts from "a far-flung network of men" that had been abused by the camp director—fell short due to red tape and the low prioritization given to such accusations by police. While it's a harrowing story, Mills's ability to persevere and eventually build his own family offers hope, and his raw vulnerability inspires. This is a searing testament to human resilience. (Apr.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Mills (Next of Kin) lays bare in this unflinching account the irrevocable impact of the sexual abuse he suffered as a teen. In 1968, while attending Connecticut's Camp Ella Fohs, 13-year-old Mills was pulled aside by the camp's director, Dan Farinella, for a private talk about masturbation. In the fall of that year, Farinella invited Mills to the camp off-season to "help out with some projects." The sexual abuse started there and continued for years, with Mills silenced by his shame. As an adult, Mills struggled for years to find stability and a sense of purpose, committing petty thefts, taking drugs, studying at a yeshiva, and dropping out of grad school before therapy helped him understand that he had PTSD. Even with that diagnosis, Mills writes, the road forward was full of hurdles, and his efforts to bring Farinella to justice—after obtaining accounts from "a far-flung network of men" that had been abused by the camp director—fell short due to red tape and the low prioritization given to such accusations by police. While it's a harrowing story, Mills's ability to persevere and eventually build his own family offers hope, and his raw vulnerability inspires. This is a searing testament to human resilience. (Apr.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"At thirteen years old, Stephen Mills is chosen for special attention by the director of his Jewish summer camp, a charismatic social worker. Stephen, whose father had died when he was four, places his trust in this authority figure, who then grooms and molests him for two years. The boy tells no one, but the aftershocks rip through his life: self-loathing, drugs, petty crime, and horrific nightmares, all made worse by the discovery that his abuser is moving from camp to camp, state to state, molesting countless other boys. Only physical and mental collapse bring Stephen to confront the truth of his boyhood and begin the painful path to recovery-as well as a decades-long crusade to stop a serial predator and find justice. Astonishingly, the trauma of sexual abuse is shared by one out of every six men, yet few have spoken out. Chosen is a rare act of consummate courage, the indelible story of a man who faces his torment and his tormentor and, in the process, is made whole"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"An unparalleled achievement, a work of shattering, almost unbearable radiance. I did not stop crying throughout. For Mills. For my young self. For all of us who have lived and continue to live in that pitiless abyss of childhood abuse. To read this courageous book is to be transformed utterly by Mills's empathy, resilience, and grace. Mark my words: Chosen is destined to be a classic because this is a book that will save lives."—Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoAt thirteen years old, Stephen Mills is chosen for special attention by the director of his Jewish summer camp, a charismatic social worker intent on becoming his friend. Stephen, whose father died when he was four, places his trust in this authority figure, who first grooms and then molests him for two years.Stephen tells no one, but the aftershocks rip through his adult life, as intense as his denial: self-loathing, drug abuse, petty crime, and horrific nightmares, all made worse by the discovery that his abuser is moving from camp to camp, state to state, molesting other boys. Only physical and mental collapse bring Stephen to confront the truth of his boyhood and begin the painful process of recovery—as well as a decades-long crusade to stop a serial predator, find justice, and hold to account those who failed the children in their care.The trauma of sexual abuse is shared by one out of every six men, yet very few have broken their silence. Unflinching and compulsively readable, Chosen eloquently speaks for those countless others and their families. It is a rare act of consummate courage and generosity—the indelible story of a man who faces his torment and his tormentor and, in the process, is made whole.