The complete title of this hauntingly sad memoir is FORGIVING TROY - A True Story of Murder, Mental Illness, and Recovery. It is written by Thom Bierdz, an actor/artist who I first came to know through the very popular daytime soap The Young & the Restless back in the mid 1980's.
In this compelling book, Thom tells how he and his family cope with the death of their mother, Phyllis, in 1989 at the hands of their brother Troy. Troy is the youngest of four siblings in the Bierdz family living in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He always required more attention than the other three children and by the time he reached his teens, it became a more serious problem for Phylis, who was a single mother after her husband walked away from the marriage years earlier without looking back.
With Thom living in Los Angeles, following his dreams of acting and painting, brother Gregg away at college and sister Hope married and focusing on her own family, Phylis was left to handle Troy the best she knew how. Over time Troy became increasingly agitated and even violent and ended up in trouble with the law. Though he was sentenced to various facilities, he always escaped and in the process attacked innocent employees, doctors and nurses. But the court system seemed not to offer much help because more and more the very facilities that could possibly help Troy refused to accept him because of his violent tendencies. With Troy becoming more secretive and angry, Phylis discovered frightening things about her 'miracle baby'. His anger towards Thom was evident in drawings her made depicting how he planned to kill his openly gay, famous oldest brother.
Then on July 14, 1989, Thom got the call that changed his family forever. Troy had beaten their mother to death with a baseball bat and all indications were that he was on his way to California to kill Thom next.
What follows in the pages of this unforgettable memoir is how the Bierdz family, each in their own way, deals with the devastating truth about Troy and that he took their mother's life seemingly at first, with little remorse. Thom Bierdz writes an amazingly honest and gut-wrenching account of the days and years that follow. Thom's fight with his own demons are a huge part of the story and in the end, helps him to understand and even try to forgive Troy not always with his sibling's support. Through all the years of coping and coming to terms, Thom struggles to deal with his own psyche - insomnia, his sexuality, his shame in his own violent tendencies, his inability to function in social settings and fear of the spotlight all fill his mind and make him question if he and Troy are, in fact, similar. Unfortunately, the tragedy of the Bierdz family doesn't end with Troy. The book, however, does end on a promising note and proves that unconditional love does exist even in the worst of circumstances.
Once I started reading this book, I simply could not put it down. Not only did my heart break for Thom and his family, I became frustratingly annoyed by the judicial system with respect to people with mental disease. Troy was fortunate to have a brother as vigilant, loving and strong as Thom to be able to put aside his own grief to help his brother.
Not only is this a fascinating story, but the way the book is laid out is impressive. The chapters highlight important events in his family's life and takes the reader masterfully through the years following the crime. The book also includes many pictures of Thom's paintings that are impressive yet daunting. It's no wonder he has received such accolades and praise.
I'd like to thank Thom Bierdz for sending me this book that will resonate with me for quite some time. I've been a fan of his work on Y & R for years, but now having read his book, I have a whole new respect for him. I encourage you to pick up this book if you're looking for a true account of unconditional love. This book is available at ThomBierdz.com.
Author: Thom Bierdz
Publisher: Tom Bierdz, Inc.