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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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06/08/2005 Archived Entry: "Book review: Are You There Alone? The Unspeakable Crime of Andrea Yates"

Are You There Alone? The Unspeakable Crime of Andrea Yates
By Suzanne O'Malley
Published by Simon and Schuster
Visit : http ://
*The updated edition "Are You There Alone?" features a new chapter on the appeal of the Yates case, as well as personal updates on both Andrea and Rusty Yates.

Review by Kathy LaFollett

I lightly followed the Yates murders when it hit MSNBC and CNN like a Mac Truck. I remember thinking, no mother in her right mind could do such a thing -- 5 times in a row -- without being insane. No way.

As the national press and media fed upon the bodies and souls involved like demonic vampires (nope, I have no faith or respect for the mainline media) the collective masses watching learned nothing but misinformation, lies, and prejudicial statements. Some grew to hate religion, some the husband, some the system, some the mother, and some all of the above. And others, particularly one investigative reporter, chose to be analytical, logical, and unemotional for the sake of the truth. And in so doing, single-handedly saved a sick woman's life, and brought justice to the situation.

Ms. O'Malley's work is currently being praised and honored. That in itself is validation, but it is obvious she had a larger reason for working so hard, long, and personally on a woman's case in Texas. Because THIS woman's case in Texas could be ANY woman's case in any other corner of the world.

Andrea Yates was failed by her family, her husband, her doctors, her religion, and her friends. She was sick from the very beginning. With each birth (supposedly chosen by god) she drew closer to imploding. It would later be found that her family has a history of bipolar illness. AFTER her delusional sick self murdered her children. To late.

And that is the story of Andrea Yates. Too little, too late. A day late and a dollar short. At the moment of needed justice and fair trial, an expert witness would lie through arrogance and laziness. Defense attorneys would fail to see the bigger picture and expose that lie, and Andrea Yates would be convicted on a reference to a nonexistent television show episode in HALF the time it took a jury to indict.

The last final blow to her luck and destiny?

It all happened in Texas. Texas has an extremely difficult legal system for the insane. You can't win for losing or vice a versa. Damned if you do, and damned if you don't. But I'll let the eloquent skill and strong knowledge of Suzanne O'Malley explain that bit of ironic fluff. Suffice it to say, Andrea Yates was damned the day she became sick and has been living the very life she tried to eliminate from her children's. Living the life of the damned.

This book is MORE than just a story of a family ripped apart and destroyed by religion, medicine, and law. This is an indictment against those very systems. An incredibly gripping read, that quietly whispers "This could be you and your children, and no one will really give a damn either."

To Ms. O'Malley's credit, she saved a life, extinguished countless lies, uplifted a family, held out hope to a sick woman tormented by demons and meds, and continues to hold out hope to that woman. The word tragedy does not touch upon the sadness and loss contained in this story.

Are You There Alone? The Unspeakable Crime of Andrea Yates is an absolute must read.

There by the grace of god (or lack thereof) go I.

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