This is the unforgettable story about a well-respected surgeon at the Mayo Clinic who was lucky to also be the husband of a beautiful and intellectual wife and the father of six rambunctious boys. Unfortunately, Dr. Roger Sullivan also battled dark demons and an addiction to alcohol which not only ruined his own life and career but the life of his wife and the childhood of six innocent children.
The book opens with a poem written by Luke's mother Myra Longstreet Sullivan. The very first line sets up the haunting tragic tone that will continue throughout the book. The opening line says, "You disappeared before they were born, all of them - except maybe the first when you weren't quite gone just beginning to go-... and so the story goes. Roger and Myra, college sweethearts, marry and start a family. They survive on Roger's earnings as a college medical school student and raise their first little boy, who is soon joined by a brother, then another brother and as the years tick by Roger is hired by the highly respected Mayo Clinic, they buy a beautiful thirty room home, nicknamed the Millstone, in Minnesota and build a family of six handsome sons.
On the outside they were living the 1950's American Dream but on the inside it was a home of verbal and physical abuse, drunken rages, shame, pain, embarrassment, anger and lies. The boys developed their own coping mechanisms. They found hiding places (in those thirty rooms) and outside, they learned to climb onto the roof and scale the nearby water tower. The older two released their anger and frustration in music by forming their own locally popular rock 'n' roll band, The Pagans. The boys were the best of friends and learned to look out for and take care of each other. The re-tellings of their childhood games and pranks were, at times, hilarious. They were a great reprieve away from the abusive stories of their father and the sadness of their mother. (Their mother, she had to have been an amazing woman! How she survived that decade and managed to raise six boys who all turned out to be wonderful and successful men is amazing.)
Thirty Rooms to Hide In is, at times, hilarious and heart-warming and, at others, terrifying and depressing. I would laugh til my ribs hurt and then cry until I was emotionally exhausted and yet I couldn't put it down. If you read it, and I highly recommend that you do, you should read it in conjunction with reviewing his website, www . thirtyroomstohidein . com. There are family photos and copies of letters, audio of his brothers band and home videos.