The Warmest December is a story of a young girl and her family as they move through an abusive past with an alcoholic man. Kenzie struggles through childhood only to find that she has started to become her father, Hy-Lo. She visits him daily and relives painful moments from her past at his bedside. The book is filled with difficult accounts of her physical and emotional abuse as she grows up. This paper will discuss the topics of recovery and forgiveness after a troubled past as it pertains to both The Warmest December and other books we have read, specifically Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Dandicat.
Recovery and forgiveness are central themes in The Warmest December. Kenzie is challenged by both and eventually realizes that the two themes are dependant on each other. It is clear from the beginning as Kenzie visits the hospital that she wants to forgive her father, even if it's not true forgiveness, but the kind that will allow her to move forward in life. She can't explain why she continues to visit Hy-Lo, but something internal guides her to that perpetually cold room day after day.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language® defines recovery as "A return to a normal condition." This definition makes describing child abuse recovery very difficult. An abused child has never really known a normal condition in life, at least
not as people raised in a safe environment do. Thus, a return to a normal condition would really be no positive change at all. We find out as the novel progresses that Kenzie is a recovering alcoholic. This is an important step in recovering from her abusive childhood, but she needs more. Kenzie is recovering in a different way. She is finally starting to rec...
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...e last beating she received from Hy-Lo, a recovery from the loss of her cat, a recovery from the emotional stress of listening to her mother and brother get beaten, and eventually a recovery from a broken life. The importance of the theme of forgiveness cannot be overlooked either as she struggles to leave behind the man that stole the childhood she deserved to have. He seems warmer and dies almost immediately after she forgives him, almost as if he too needed to be forgiven in order to move on. She is able to face the future by obtaining recovery through forgiveness, forgiveness through understanding, and understanding through confronting her past. McFadden paints a vivid picture and helps us understand the impacts of an abusive past in a very real way that leaves a deep impact on the reader. Even though it's difficult to read about abuse, I thought this was a good
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