This is a review of the book The Hell I Carry: An Autobiography by Lucas Derion. It is a very deep, dark book with a hopeful final message. I learned a great deal about storytelling and human resilience by reading the short memoir of this abuse survivor.
Talking About the Narrative
The Hell I Carry has the typical story arc we have all grown to know. It tells the story of the author, Mr. Lucas Derion, in a cohesive, chronological manner. Thus it’s extremely easy to get into and follow. His character develops through the gruesome journey and goes through the phases of victimhood, antagonism, and in the end, redemption. The developments of the young abuse survivor are a compelling read to any friend of real-life tales. Something clever Mr. Derion did in his autobiography is that he uses the people on his path as checkpoints. Hence, each person marks the beginning of a new scene in his life.
This short memoir seems to be a journey into understanding the self and the origins of the self. We’re brought along to this adventure to find meaning within the chaos that was so forcefully thrust upon the author. In fact, this book is a deep dive into the past of this remarkable abuse survivor. Mr. Derion does it in an uncanny way that is sure to leave its imprint in the shadows of our minds. He takes us on a journey into the misfortunes, and we face them together with him.
The Hell I Carry is a compelling story of human tragedy. The paths each individual experienced before breaching the young Mr. Derion’s fragile peace play a key role in answering the questions that plague him. From the menacing Uncle-T to his mother, and over to the foster father Steve and the lost Jada, the importance of knowing that everyone carried their own demons seems to be a key element in Mr. Derion being able to move forward into a brighter future.
The autobiography includes brilliantly told moments of importance, some of which evoke terror in the heart of any decent person. Similarly, others light up the little flame of hope. One moment we face the uncomfortably menacing act of brushing a young boy’s hair obsessively for hours. In spite of the terror we also get to take respite in the foster mother talking about his precious rock collection. These moments are sure to leave us floating in the feeling of the atmosphere even after we’ve stopped reading.
Taking a Look at Technicalities
Besides the story elements, I took a good look at how Mr. Derion uses language to deliver his story.
When you open the short memoir, you are promptly drawn to wonder about the almost too decorative chapter titles. Their twirly letters give you a poetic glimpse into the future, sometimes even adding an ominous premonition to the mix. Consequently, The looming dread did not leave me for a moment as I read about Mr. Derion’s arrival at his final foster home. The looming dread casts its shadows on the celebrations and enjoyment of his new family. The title of that chapter was: “The Hell Welcomes Me Back… Warmly”.
His story carries itself in a philosophical manner, as the author ponders on his early life and young adulthood adventures. Mr. Derion’s writing entices you to feel the cold water droplets on your face as you bang on the neighbor’s door beside him. Therefore, I can almost guarantee you’ll be wiping away those pesky tears at various points of the journey. You’ll find yourself hoping and praying for this boy to finally break free from his tormentors.
Additionally, the occasional proof of reality balances the self-experienced parts of the story. He shows images of reports written by one of the people who worked on his case as supporting evidence. That paired with the citations of studies and experts makes this autobiography eerily real. The otherwise unbelievably grotesque tale that I wouldn’t want to believe to be true and within the range of humanity.
Dialogue Amplifies the Moment
Mr. Derion uses dialogue brilliantly to emphasize some meaningful key situations. He depicts the terrifying moments with his abusers in a few concise words that will make the hair at the back of your neck raise. Still, on the flip side of the same coin, there are some heart-warming moments of sanctuary. The chats the young man has with his Sage-like great-grandmother about the soon-to-be-born baby. The previously mentioned talk with the foster mother, Tammy, regarding his rock collection. These talks bring an enormous light into the insane, chaotic early world of the author.
What I found amusing, is that Mr. Derion says to the reader that the story will be told simply. Indeed, I do agree in principle with him. However, I would also like to note that gorgeous, symbolic, and often incredibly well-resonating depictions fill the language he uses to tell his tale. Here are some of the gems I found within the book for your enjoyment:
“— firefly in a world of ladybugs and butterflies–”(As he describes his mother)
“The flames of their anger danced like dying stars in an endless space.”(When he describes the fights between his mother and her partner)
“Sometimes we desire the things that fuel our desire to exist.”
“I would rather stay trapped in the hell I had come to know so intimately than leave it behind in search of unfamiliar treacheries.”
In my opinion, Mr. Derion went through an unnecessary process of apologizing to the people that may get hurt by this autobiography. We all walk down our paths, and as such, we should remember that we are all entitled to talk about our lives and stories. Of course, this includes writing them down in an attempt to clarify our chaos, as Mr. Derion seems to have wanted to do with his short memoir.
Of course, I’ve also been wrestling with this same thing. I’ve gone through some contemplating after my father asked me in a defensive manner if I’ve been writing about him. Tough luck, Pa. You’re an intrinsic part of my personal puzzle, which I’m attempting to piece together in much the same way as Mr. Derion.
Another thing that caught my eye was the incessant insistence of the author that he ‘was not making excuses’. Not for his abusers, not for his mother, and not for himself when he lapsed into broken behaviors in his young adulthood. During these moments, I was left wondering what the motif of such persuasion may have been in the presence of the various monsters he faced. I found no reason to emphasize the fact that there is simply no excuse for such beastly conduct.
4.5 Rating from Yours Truly
The Hell I Carry is an excellent, narrative autobiography that is sure to leave our hearts aching. The thoughts and memories that have haunted the author for way too long are now ours to take in. Likewise, the pain and bitterness of his voice let us in on his most vulnerable moments.
There is only one reason why the book doesn’t reach the Legendary rating in Mrs. Vana’s Atheneum. For an unknown reason, Mr. Derion decided to include paragraphs on the norm of monogamy in our ‘narrow-minded’ society. This misplaced, almost ideological tangent was a crack in the narrative and threw me out of the story of his life. Thankfully the section was brief, and I returned to it within a few pages.
All and all this autobiography is an uncomfortable, yet necessary read for the majority of humanity. Its brutal tales of abuse in its abhorrent forms give us a peek into the horrific reality of many people. I full-heartedly encourage you to read it as it is most of all a message of hope and growth. A story about breaking free from the chains of fate that seemed to have captured Mr. Derion for good. Not to mention that his story needs to be heard, if only to bring one more flickering flame to the dark side of humanity we all need to be aware of.
If you’d like to read more of my thoughts on books and other things I’ve come across, you can find them here!
Last Updated: 27/05/2023