by David Tognoni
I'm unsure what I think about this book.
Suffocated is not the story of a child being suffocated by a mother with Munchhausen by Proxy Syndrome (maybe, we will discuss this in a bit). It is a list of facts and court transcripts completely from Mr. Tognoni's (dad's) point of view and what his life was like, mostly, after divorcing his wife. He is, as all divorced parents are, very generous with his criticisms of his wife and rarely mentions any faults or mistakes of his own. I find that to be a major fault of this book. It's a very one-sided story of a very messy divorce.
There IS indeed the mention of Munchhausen by Proxy, and some of the stories that Mr. Tognoni shares of his wife do point to that being an issue for mom, however, there is no definite on this. There is not a diagnosis by a doctor or psychologist so this "diagnosis" that seems so definite when you read the description of the book comes down to what Mr. Tognoni believes his wife suffers from. And based on the behaviors of BOTH mom and dad, I can not say either way what the truth is.
Because this is a very one-sided story, I have a hard time deciding what I think about the parties involved. Mom seems to be very selfish and vengeful, but I honestly would like to see a book written by her, because then - and only then - do I think we'd even get close to actual facts. Dad is not the brightest star in my opinion either, even though he's trying to cast himself in a good light. I can understand why he did some of the things that he did, but I definitely don't approve. We spend a lot of time in the last half of the book reading court transcript after court transcript, all dealing with dad in the court system because he owes $50,000 in back child support. I find this to be a major fault of Mr. Tognoni. Even if his wife is a piece of shit, I always think we should abide by the laws of the land to the best of our ability. And, with all of Mr. Tognoni's accusations of his wife and her non-care of the children, in ten years he only attempted twice to get custody of his children. I did not see him fighting very hard (in court) to gain more time with his children, or honestly, to care for them. When they were with him he was a GREAT dad. But when they weren't, I don't see him going above and beyond. And he does not admit any of the mistakes he made (besides marrying his wife, of course), which is a major flaw in this book for me and a major reason why I question the author's opinion of his wife.
With all of that said, I did still find this book interesting. I seem to be obsessed with our justice system lately and oddly enough, I wanted to read all of the court transcripts because it gave me a look into how the court operates. If you want to read a real-life story about child abuse and the court who took the abuser down, this is not the book for you. However, if you'd like to read a one-sided book about how the justice system is out to screw dad's, this book IS for you! (and can I just say that I don't necessarily disagree with that opinion, but I would widen that comment to say the justice system does not pay enough attention to their cases. They screw EVERYONE because of their opinions the labels they put on people. It's the one major fault I find with our system, oftentimes there is not really true justice).
Also, the only reason this review is so long is because it seems that Mr. Tognoni's entire goal for this book was to spur a discussion of what the truth is in this situation. So it was hard for me to just write a paragraph and leave you to it.
"'Your son Wes has been suffocated,' they were the most terrifying words for a father to hear. Frantically, Dave Tognoni, drives five hours to the hospital, horrified with a torment of thoughts, saying, “Hang on Wes, hang on.” There in intensive care he finds his intelligent, active toddler son now naked, sedated, and unconscious. When the accident happened, his wife, a trained paramedic, revived him through CPR, but it was too late. After heart-wrenching weeks of inconsolable tears, rocking Wes, gathering his family for support, the verdict was in: massive brain damage. Wes would live out his life with severe/profound Cerebral Palsy in a wheel chair functioning at the level of an infant. Dave and his wife divorce and his ex-wife is bitterly unrelenting in her attacks through the divorce courts using his two older children as monetary pawns leaving him financially ruined, separated, and estranged from his children.
Later, as Dave is trying to make sense of it all, he finds out that all might not be, as it seems. Dave watches a horrific documentary on TV about Munchhausen by Proxy Syndrome now called Factitious Disorder by Proxy where mothers use suffocation, poison etc. on their own children, to gain attention. His ex-wife's profile eerily seems to fit.
This is the true story of a divorced father, demonized by the liberal "justice" system, ensnared in a web of puzzling deception, relentlessly attacked and intentionally jailed in "debtor's prison" by his ex-wife. Dave survives the devastation of Wes’ suffocation, the destruction of his family, to boldly present the facts of the manipulative facade. You decide the truth."
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review - thank you!