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If I Am Missing or Dead: A Sister's Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation
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If I Am Missing or Dead: A Sister's Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  4,809 ratings  ·  879 reviews
In April 2002, Janine Latus's youngest sister, Amy, wrote a note and taped it to the inside of her desk drawer. "Today Ron Ball and I are romantically involved," it read, "but I fear I have placed myself at risk in a variety of ways. Based on his criminal past, writing this out just seems like the smart thing to do. If I am missing or dead this obviously has not protected ...more
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by Simon & Schuster
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Erin
Sep 06, 2007 Erin rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one
Shelves: nonfiction
Wow. I'm not sure that I've ever come away from a book disliking the author so much since Lance Armstrong. The book jacket reads as if this will be story about Amy Latus. It isn't. I think that Amy appears in this book only to give Janine Latus a reason to write it (perhaps she saw this as her big writing "break"?), because this book is about Janine and Janine only. Any references to Amy deal with Janine's reaction to what happened to Amy and how hard it was for her. I was also absolutely amazed ...more
Jill
Sep 10, 2008 Jill rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absolutely no one
Shelves: audible, yuck
Ok, I get that in the beginning Latus is setting up the family's background for enduring and living with violence within their relationships. But it's turning me off. I don't know why just yet.


*****Later*****

It has been a long, long time since I said "Yuck!" to a book here on Goodreads.

What I'm about to say may cause many people to hate me and jump down my throat due to the nature of the memoir, but I'm just giving my honest impression.

I believe Janine Latus to be one of the most self-centered,
...more
Liz
Jun 30, 2008 Liz added it
Recommends it for: all women.
This book was a very quick read for me, I read it cover to cover on a 4 hour flight. The writing is stellar, and the subject matter is very compelling.
I disagree with people who chide the author for telling her own story. I always thought that was the point...her story of abuse and her story of her sister's death.
I cried many times during this book. Janine's love for others, her sisters, her mother, and other women in her life rang out loud and clear and familiar.
Violence against women and fa
...more
Jocelynne Broderick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jann
Even though the basic premise of the account was her sister's death, every element of the book didn't tie into it. Instead, what she did was establish a pattern of abuse that made it more understandable for these two strong, smart, beautiful women to accept a pattern of abuse that is unacceptable for anyone.

To be fair, she can't write about what she didn't know or experience herself. We get to know Amy as a family member would know her-- in this case, as a little sister. They speak on the phone
...more
Michelle Bouchor
This is an awful, awful book. From the reading the title, you'd think it was about a woman's search for her sister's killer, which is what prompted me to read it. Naturally, I was thinking it was going to be a loving memoir to her sister and how justice was served in the end. Not at all! Until you're almost at the end of the book it's completely about the author's abusive relationship and how she stayed in it and received many beatings, abusive language, etc. I was so disgusted by the author's n ...more
Nadia
Oct 13, 2007 Nadia rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who is unsure if they are in an abusive relationship
I notice some of the reviews here pointing out that this book is about the author rather than her sister. That's definitely true, but I think it's also part of the point of the book. The author was living through a series of abusive relationships while putting on a good face for her family - all the while her younger sister was doing the same.

I think the point is the guilt. At the point in her own life when she finally came to terms with needing out, her sister's parallel story took a turn for t
...more
Gwen
Wow. This book will make you decide to never, ever, ever affiliate yourself with any male ever again. It's one of the most depressing books I've ever read.

It starts off with the basic Catholic girl victimization--lecherous dad, pervy friends' dads, constant refrain that they are bad and slutty and tempt men, who can't help themselves, moving into the obligatory rape in early adulthood. And things don't get better from there.

It's horrifying to read how the intelligent, witty, educated author gets
...more
Karen
Jun 11, 2010 Karen rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one!
Shelves: audiobook
I am shocked and saddened by the tone of this book! Is this a book about the author's missing/murdered sister (as the title implies) or is it about the self-absorbed author?

The title is very compelling and as a fan of true crime shows like Forensic Files, 48 Hours Mystery, etc. I thought this book would be interesting. I listened to it on audio and I must say that the author's sister--the true victim here--was done a huge disservice. This is the most self-indulgent piece of work I have ever pic
...more
Pam
I was also confused as to why this book seemed to spend so little time with Amy.

I've decided that the author couldn't write what she didn't know (what was going on in Amy's secretive relationship - Amy wasn't volunteering any information - maybe because she was embarrassed or ashamed - why write the letter in her desk if she didn't know that she couldn't trust her heart)- so Janine wrote about what she did know. - why SHE stayed in abusive, dangerous relationships - we live what we know. I have
...more
Jen
I had a hard time giving this book 4 stars ("really liked it"), although it deserves them. "Missing or Dead" was incredibly disturbing, rather than "likeable". Even more so because it is a true story. I find it difficult to understand women who choose to remain in abusive and controlling situations, and yet I recognized little bits of myself, my family and past relationships within this brutally honest and heart-wrenching memoir.

Latus writes like the journalist that she is. Her words are concis
...more
Maddie Takemori
My overall feelings for this book fluctuated constantly throughout my experience, from picking up the cover to read a summary, all the way to the final pages of the book. The summary and description provide you with a teaser of the tradgedy, yet it gives away your sense of curiosity to read further when she *ahem,* "mentions," that Amy is murdered at the end. What reason do you have to finish the book if the featured conflict has already been given to you? I read further, out of curiosity, and ...more
Dawn Michelle
Feb 06, 2008 Dawn Michelle rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who would like insight into an abused persons life
Recommended to Dawn Michelle by: Picked it up the night we had to wait to get the last Harry Pott
Shelves: non-fiction
I started reading this in the bookstore the night we picked up the last Harry Potter book. It is VERY good, but I would like to finish it. Hopefully I can either finish it in the bookstore (a la Aubrey) or just buy it, read it and pass it on!!! :)
More when I am finished!

UPDATE:
Finished the book. Finished it 2 hours while sitting in Indigo. I felt like my eyes were on FIRE!
This was a good book, but very very sad. Very thought provoking as well. But over-all, very sad. I think I am still digesting
...more
Santos
Okay, I bought this book yesterday afternoon and finished it this morning. I loved it and hated it. either way, I was compelled to read it. It made me cry several times. I'm not sure that it will be as interesting to everybody else, but some things just resonated for me. A quick synopsis: the author's little sister was murdered by her boyfriend. Part of the healing process for the author was to search back into her own past and examine her own abusive relationships. It was well-written and a bit ...more
Mystique
Sep 07, 2010 Mystique rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mystique by: MMurphy
Wow, after reading some of the reviews down there, it's a wonder that Janine Latus doesn't pull every copy of her book off of the shelf and give up on women as friends, in addition to giving up on men.

The book is a Sister's Story of Love, Murder, and Liberation. There are 3 things here and I think Janine covers them all. She talks about love - her love for her sister, her family, and eventually herself. She talks about murder - the lurking potential for her own, her sister's, and the constant po
...more
Carolyn
The title and tagline for this book promise much more than it delivers. I started reading it thinking that it would tell the story of the author's sister, her demise and the aftermath...but instead found chapter after chapter about the author's own life and various affairs and encounters with abusive men. Her sister Amy seemed like an afterthought...mentioned in passing every once in awhile. I also disliked the way she thought of and spoke about her sister...criticizing her weight and appearance ...more
Sarah
I listened to this book on audiotape, and while I did enjoy it, I feel like it wasn't what I was expecting. I mean, maybe it's because it was abridged, but it didn't seem so much about the author's sister as the author herself, whose life (and romantic relationships) are covered down to each little detail. Still, a compelling story.
Kourtney
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Caitlin Constantine
I'm giving this a high rating because, while I can see why other reviewers are critical of the limited presence of Amy in the book and hence felt misled, I also have to say, as a woman who was in a similar relationship for the better part of my twenties, the book Latus produced could have very well been written by myself. Everything from the mental soundtrack - including the disdain for other women in bad relationships - to the endless repetitive conversations about how you are cheating with eve ...more
David Groves
This account of a sister's murder is not the type of book that it seems. It is better.

Janine Latus's simple story rends the heart. Her sister Amy, a lonely widower in her thirties, lets an ex-con into her life, allows him to borrow over $60,000, and gives him a roof to sleep under. One day, she ends up missing, and sometime later, her body is found, buried in a construction site, buried and wrapped in a tarp.

But this book is nor written in the way that a disinterested journalist would write it.
...more
Marsha
No truth in advertising here. This book is the old bait and switcheroo. Cover tells the reader it is about the murder of Amy Latus. It is, but only as an aside to the autobiography of the author. Which by the way is not bad, it's just that it is so ordinary. It is a classic, I had a crappy childhood, I made bad choices because of it, men are all crappy, I woke up and got out and oh yeah, my sister didn't. Latus shows contempt for her sister throughout the novel. The author tells us of how hard s ...more
Catherine
This book was an intense look at domestic abuse. The author chronicles her life and her youngest sister, Amy's life through their abusive relationships and finally to the author's divorce and Amy's death. I couldn't help but wonder why, when it was all-too-apparent that the father was abusive, would the family continue to protect him. The author stresses her family's close-knit bonds, but from my impressions, the family culture was to buck-up and put on a front, which may have attributed to Amy' ...more
Mark
Immensely sad memoir of a woman whose father never had a kind word for her, and who always seemed attracted to abusive, controlling men. While this was supposed to be about the sister, who was killed by her lover, the bulk of the book was about the author's life. That is meant as an observation, not a complaint. The story was compelling and infuriating and remarkably candid. This reader is once again reminded how blessed he is to have had a pretty normal childhood. Although her experiences are f ...more
Heidi
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Tiffany
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Nicole
Yikes. What a drama queen this author is. I am still puzzling over the 1/8 of the story that she gave over to her sister's sad story (although the title/back of the book leads the reader to believe that it is entirely about her sister). The rest of the story is a series of bad, creepy, violent and strange acts that happen to the author. It makes you cringe. Then there are the parts where you are just plain irritated that she can't even see how shallow she is (or maybe she does, and she just does ...more
Monica Ricci
Janine’s Latus’s book, If I Am Missing or Dead, talks about love, murder and liberation. It starts, talking about the author who grew up in Michigan with her four siblings, her mother, and an abusive father. He wasn’t the abusive father who would beat his kids, he would bully them and made sexual remarks towards his daughters. Janine Latus has an interesting life story and talks about the ups and downs she’s had. Most of her relationships with men dealt with abuse, including her relationship wit ...more
Loopyloo100
This memoir follows Janine through her childhood with a father who seemed to see every female in terms of their sexual looks. This seems to stick with Janine and follows into her adult relationships. Her relationship with Kurt is very unhealthy, but it appears that Janine did not see it this way and blamed herself for an awful lot of the problems she suffered with Kurt. At the same time her Sister Amy was living with an alcoholic abusive husband and Janine very quickly could see how bad this was ...more
TheBookVixen
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Terry
This book is COMPLETELY different than I thought it would be. I understood it to be about the author's sister's death and the aftermath. Wrong. (The jacket copy for the hardcover edition is terribly misleading, I must say. For example, it makes is sound like the trial of her sister's murderer takes up a huge chunk of the book and it's only mentioned in passing!) The book follows the author and her relationships and marriage, and her sister's death occurs within the last few pages. On one hand an ...more
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