Out of the Fire and into the Pan is the sequel to the author’s first book, The Blood on my Hands.
Shannon O’Leary (a pseudonym) is a prolific writer and performer. Her first book The Blood on My Hands told the story of her traumatic and violent childhood in the 1960s and 70s Australia. This sequel, Out of the Fire and into the Pan, explains to the reader how she progressed into the adult world while coming to terms with her terrifying past. It is a story of personal growth and of how O’Leary navigates her transition into adulthood, while seeking out the social norms and finding her place in the world. Out of the Fire and into the Pan takes the reader on a personal journey where Shannon questions herself, her past, her choice of relationships and her place in the world. It is a story of resilience, accomplishment and personal triumph. Readers will quickly become engrossed as they follow the author’s life after the tragic circumstances forced upon her as a child and on to the life she made for herself as a survivor.
In my review of this books predecessor, The Blood on my Hands, one of the things I mentioned was how I would have liked to read more about O’Leary’s adult life, how she overcame the terror rained down on her and her family by her father, how she coped in the aftermath. It seems I wasn’t alone in this want, as O’Leary introduced her new book stating, “what came next?” was the question many readers asked. Out of the Fire and into the Pan is the answer to that question – it picks up directly where book one left off.
Written in a very similar writing style to its predecessor, this book places you next to O’Leary as she navigates the world as an adult. I purposely say next to, because the abuse O’Leary suffered at the hands of her father was so extreme, so brutal, that it’s almost impossible to feel as O’Leary felt, however, she does bring you as close as she can. It is not easy reading, and nor should it be, due to the content.
What struck me while I was reading this book was all that O’Leary accomplished despite the threat of her father being ever present. Do you ever think of someone and wish they could see how strong they are, how brave, to not only exist, but carve out a life for themselves despite all they’ve been through. As you read this book, you’ll wish O’Leary was able to see that about herself, her strength, and you’ll keep hoping for happier times for her. And there were happier times, my typing fingers are itching to say a happy ending, but can you ever move on completely, can you ever completely forget? O’Leary does experience success in her professional life, and personal life, blessed with five children.
As O’Leary details her life, you’ll clearly see the knock-on effect of her childhood trauma. How it impacted her future actions, how they wreaked havoc with her mental health.
“I constantly lost sight of what was good for me because anything was better than what I had before.”
Despite all that’s written above, this book is hard to review – like with book one, it is a book so honest, so raw in its emotion, such a personal account, this book just is. From a reader-interest perspective, this book may be of interest to those who work in certain fields, such as mental health or psychology, who want to gain an insight into how trauma in childhood impacts a person’s adult life.
Out of the Fire and into the Pan likely won’t win any awards for poetic writing or fluidity, but it should win awards for honesty, for the author’s ability to reflect on the painful experiences in her life. For in this honesty, O’Leary demands you pay attention, this is her voice, and this is her story. Reading The Blood on my Hands is highly recommended before picking up this sequel due to it being a continuation of events.
*My thanks to Book Publicity Services for providing me with a copy of this book*