Too Afraid to Cry: Memoir of a Stolen Childhood

Ali Cobby Eckermann (Inside My Mother) is part of the Stolen Generation, children of Aboriginal descent forced by the Australian government to leave their birth families between 1905 and 1969. In Too Afraid to Cry, Eckermann gives voice to the estimated 100,000 victims of this tragic period in Australian history.

Raised on a farm by loving German Lutheran parents with their other children, Eckermann describes her early childhood as nearly idyllic: visits from extended family, sing-alongs with relatives, time spent caring for the farm animals and exploring nature. Yet she carried dark, damaging secrets; at age seven, she was sexually abused by a family acquaintance. That abuse--as well as assaults and bullying by others--led Eckermann into self-destructive behavior that masked her feelings of loss and trauma. She spent her teen years "sprinkling LSD and speed through my diet of alcohol and marijuana," becoming pregnant at 18 and giving her baby up for adoption. Eckermann would eventually search for, and become reunited with, her son, as well with as her Aboriginal family, who shared with her the circumstances of her birth and their collective grief upon learning she had been stolen.

Interspersed between her stark narrative are raw poems reflecting a simmering anger, ferocity and the strength that results from understanding one's heritage. In 2017, Eckermann was awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize for poetry.

In the dedication of Too Afraid to Cry, Eckermann writes that her memoir is "a story of healing not burdened by blame." Her focus remains solidly on the former while never wavering from the many ways her childhood was stolen. --Melissa Firman, writer, editor and blogger at

Powered by: Xtenit