REVIEW: Lara M. Sabanosh — Caged (BOOK)
It would be erroneous and offensive to assume Lara M. Sabanosh’s new book, expertly named Caged: The True Story of Abuse, Betrayal, and GTMO, is simply a memoir detailing the long-lasting effects and ramifications of domestic violence and acute, domestic abuse. That’s one major part of a complex, proverbial onion Sabanosh realizes with the release of her new book, as much a tip of the hat to her endurance with a painstaking family situation while working as an education service facilitator at Guantanamo Bay.
AUTHOR WEBSITE: https://www.larasabanosh.com/
In short, the book is very much her story — albeit topically framed under the tragic actions and consequences of her ex-husband, Christopher Tur. This push-pull of themes adds to the anguish and sense of confinement Sabanosh highlights in the pages. She talks extensively about how through faux-rationalizations and unintentional tunnel-visioning she became part of a statistic of women trapped in abusive relationships. One of the most shocking passages she writes about with respect to such ideas is the irony of hope. Hope that the dysfunctional loved one will change for the better.
That if the fort can be held down just a little tighter, they will see the light. The hope, for something that never comes. If anything, as Sabanosh unrelentingly demonstrates, continuing to try to make things work by any means necessary is the road to self-ruin. “Just as with anything Chris had done over the years, he started off writing genuinely reflective and meaningful letters. I could tell he was putting some thought into them. But it wasn’t a week or two before the tone of the notes changed. The content of his letters moved from kind messages about what he was learning through all this to what he expected of me in return for receiving these letters.
His notes turned creepy,” she states in this vein. “Not only did his notes reflect his underlying dysfunction, but I started to notice him throughout the day watching me, in places he had no business being. My husband was now stalking me. At work. Running errands. Out with friends. I saw his red Jeep nearly everywhere I went. When I worked late, I caught him casing my building when I went outside for smoke breaks. My office wasn’t in a location where Chris ever needed to be, so there was no room for coincidences. I felt like a caged animal.”
When Sabanosh writes so vividly about episodes such as these, one genuinely gets the sense she is reliving the pain. No matter the distance she has managed to put between herself and the events the book focuses on, it’s clear during the writing process she is right back where she started when reminiscing about those particular days. The implications of that experientially for the reader, as far as I am concerned, almost threaten to overwhelm. It makes moments and passages like the following, where Sabanosh writes — “On Friday, I flew home, feeling a mixture of deep sadness for the cage to which I was returning and hopeful energy for my newfound understanding of my own worthiness” — all the more heartbreaking.
The despair and the anguish, while never outstaying their narrative welcomes, are palpable. They help drive home all the statistical points Sabanosh imposes upon the reader, realizing such tenets and ideals with a distinctly human and relatable face no matter who you are, or where you’re from.