“In a Mothers Love You’ll Find Everything – Everything’s alright To a Mother’s Love.”  — Kem

neglected but undefeated (book cover)*Popular singer Kem’s song A Mother’s Love is bound to resonate with most, but author Jonathan Anthony Burkett indicates in his profound and heartrending memoir, it was a love that he never knew.

He speaks of emotional and physical pain that he felt from a mother in his early childhood throughout his young and tender life, mostly due to the pain that his mother felt and endured from a man she loved herself. Burkett speaks of horrific beatings that he endured at the hands of his mother, along with the verbal abuse from her during the course of these beatings.

“I’m going to kill you one of these days before I die. I hate you! You’re stupid! I want you dead!” This, obviously, is not the mother’s love that Kem was speaking of in his song.  Also, during the course of these beatings from his mother while he was around 6-years old, his mother would scream at him: “I hate you, Cleveland!” That was not Burkett’s name, but some past lover in his mother’s life. Clearly, his mother was acting out against her own son due to the hurt and pain she felt from another.

In a shocking autobiography, written to break free from the past and move on to a better future, readers will experience the pain of growing up in a household where love cannot be found, where beatings are part of a daily routine, and abuse is the inevitable meal on the table. Clearly, this is a dysfunctional family and lifestyle, with some of the subsequent problems that the author would experience in his later life, to be predictable.

This autobiography will grip at your heart as the author pours out his very soul, flooding each page with painful echoes of the past that will not die down while kept bottled up. In time, he realizes that his own grief has been passed to him by his mother, who experienced incredible anguish at the hands of his biological father. We join Burkett  in his freedom from a traumatic life brought upon by the one who should have loved him the most, but didn’t. During the course of this journey, Burkett speaks of homelessness and brain surgery due to seizures, very possibly brought about by the constant beatings and hitting to his head by his mother.

The author writes lovingly of his grandfather and the time that he spent with him as a young child in Jamaica, and his subsequent death, which seemed to impact Burkett in ways that we can only begin to imagine.

This book resonates with me because I had a mother that raised 10 of us, basically by herself, but she put her love and care for each one of us before that of a man or anyone else in her life. That is a mother’s love, something that was missing in Burkett’s life. Burkett has survived that early abuse in his life, and has grown from it to a more meaningful and loving life. This is a book of hardship and pain, but now full of redemption, that can touch the hearts of those experiencing similar anguish. It is a lesson to those missing out on love in their life, a love of one that is naturally assumed from birth.

Dennis Moore is a writer and book reviewer with the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego. He is also the author of a book about Chicago politics; “The City That Works: Power, Politics and Corruption in Chicago.” He can be contacted at [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.

“Neglected But Undefeated: The Life of a Boy Who Never Knew a Mother’s Love”
by Jonathan Anthony Burkett (Jonathan Anthony Burkett Publications, 2012, Miramar, Florida, 281 pages).

jonathan anthony burkett

Jonathan Anthony Burkett