Book Review: The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs

The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs explores the dysfunctional family dynamic.  Not everyone comes from a perfect, loving and caring family.  There are many that come from screwed up parents, disturbing childhoods, and neglectful guardians.  Many that come from a dysfunctional family question just where everything went wrong.  Why are they so screwed up?

Janet Peery takes a look into the lives of one dysfunctional family, the Campbells.  The family consists of a former judge (Abel), his stay at home wife (Hattie) and their six children.

With Abel retired from the bench, and Hattie taking care of him, the story revolves around their final years after Abel turns 80.  With one child dead and the rest with a long history of problems that range from substance abuse addictions, arrests, DUIs and estrangement, each child continues the cycle that contributes to the perfect dysfunctional family, one that is always at odds with each other with no end in sight.

How did they get this way?  Was it the parents?  Did something horrible happen in their youth that made them make such poor, destructive decisions?  Were they neglected?  Just what was it that made them utterly hate, yet love each other?

The youngest, Billy, should have died long before.  He is HIV+ and is slowly deteriorating.  He spends most of his life trying to find any drug he can get his hands on.  He is a ‘masseuse,’ which is what pays the bills for crappy tenements he believes are luxurious, even if it is downtrodden, covered in trash and rat infested.

He relies too much on his 80 year old mother to help pay for his prescriptions, bills, rent, and addictions.  He is in and out of rehab more times than anyone can count, yet no one really helps him out except his mother.  He is the brother they know is killing their mother, but they try to forget he exists.

The eldest daughter is an academic that stays far away from home.  She lives out on the East Coast and travels home only a few times a year.  Another brother is a drunk and stays away from everyone most of the time, including his own children.  The middle child always screams for attention and feels like everyone is being taken care of except her.  The eldest boy, a recovering alcoholic, always has a hard time letting go of things that hurt him.  He keeps them around, hoping in a way that everything will get better, but never does.

They not only squabble with each other, but they all have to deal with their father, Abel.  He may be respected in their hometown, but in their home, he is the reason why their family is this way.  With the insults he throws at them, making them feel like they will never amount to anything or be good enough, that is why this family is in pieces.

Hattie, though, is part of the problem.  Between showing too much love and affection towards the youngest child who takes advantage of her, and enabling all of the wrong things…her children are basically left to fend for themselves, and have no idea how to do that, so they turn to drugs and alcohol so they don’t have to think about it.


I grew up in a dysfunctional home.  Looking deep inside a dysfunctional home to try to understand where everything went wrong so that you can stop repeating the same mistakes is a difficult task.  You have to make decisions, including the tough ones that make you look like the selfish one, when all you are trying to do is survive.

Not everyone wants to live a life of pain.  Everyone deserves some happiness in their lives.  It’s that little bit of happiness that the Campbell family is trying to find.  There is a source to their unhappiness, tied to them by blood and obligation.  They will never be rid of it.

The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs is well written and explores the side of family most fear to look into.  For those who are hurting, this book may give you the answers you’ve been looking for in finding where the wrongs are in your family, or maybe it won’t, because the Campbells never really figure out how to be free from that pain.

In the end, it’s really about choice.  You can’t fix a wrong by committing another wrong.  You can’t fix what happened or how someone made you feel by drowning in drugs or alcohol.  You can’t fix it, but you can choose to let go of the pain and be the change.  You can find happiness, but that means you need to learn to let go of all the wrongs.

The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs is set to be released on September 19, 2017.

[Pictured in photo: Rebecca Minkoff studded handbag.  Similar.]

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.]