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A memoir that captures the essence of the damage very bad parenting can do and the struggle a child endures to overcome it.

Book Review: ‘Daddy Was a Punk Rocker’ by Adam Sharp

Daddy Was a Punk Rocker, Adam Sharp’s biographical tale of the relationship between his drug-addicted, musician father, as well as his heroin and, later, alcohol addicted mother and himself is both riveting and heartbreaking. It is told honestly, in a series of stories from Sharp’s life that illustrate the struggle to find an identity when a child has been shifted from place to place, ignored, and never given a chance to really understand himself in relation to his parents.

Sharp’s father was at one time the lead singer for a  punk group known as  Durutti Column in the late 70’s. His career was short-lived, though,mainly because of his addiction, and it is not necessary to know the band or anything about the Manchester punk scene to understand and appreciate this story.

Sharp does have a loving grandfather who cares for him between the moments of time his parents give him. His father, especially, disappears from his life regularly, sometimes for years, from the time he is two years old until Colin Sharp dies in 2005.

The story of how Sharp holds himself responsible for his terrible parents, how he fears being less than  perfect, and how he grows to constantly seek to run from his memories and become someone new and different as a young adult, is told with brutal honestly. Sharp is a talented writer with an eye for nuance and the ability to choose just the right moments in his life to share to reveal the most personal feelings and insights into his broken and constantly patched life. Along the way, there are even patches of humor, though they do no more than slightly lighten the struggle Sharp recounts. A section about visiting his childhood home as a toddler and seeing the crib with blood-stained pajamas thrown across the rails where his mom had used them to wipe up blood after injecting herself with heroin is far more powerful than any moment of lightness.

There are some problems with the narrative. It is often hard to know when certain events are happening, especially in Sharp’s early years. Sometimes the stories are not in linear order. This can be confusing. For instance, in one story he is two;  right after that there is a story about riding his new bike. Obviously, time has passed. How old is he now? A few dates and ages would definitely have helped.

Despite this, the book is well worth reading. One leaves the story hoping for a better, brighter future for Sharp, and more books to come.

About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, Southern Crossroads: Georgia Bluesand Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.

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