Kirkus Reviews on PEE-SHY


PEE-SHY by Frank Spinelli
Review Issue Date: December 1, 2013
Online Publish Date: November 7, 2013

The frank chronicle of a physician recovering from a traumatic childhood stunted by shame.

Internist, wellness radio host and public speaker Spinelli (The Advocate Guide to Gay Men’s Health and Wellness, 2008) openly shares the harrowing episodes of sexual abuse he endured as a youth and the ripple effect that lasted well into his adult life, until he decided to find closure in his 40s. After fulfilling many of his adult life goals, such as a lucrative private practice, home ownership and a publishing deal, it was a loving gay relationship that proved most elusive for the lonesome author. A particularly nerve-racking blind date with handsome Chad reconfirmed a barrage of neurotic insecurities, including a bizarre bathroom ritual caused by Spinelli’s paruresis, a social-anxiety phobia rendering one unable to urinate in the (real or perceived) presence of others. The narrative backtracks to the late 1970s, tracing Spinelli’s youth as a chubby Italian boy from Staten Island who, at 11, first met Scoutmaster “Bill,” a ruthlessly seductive man who lured several youth into his bedroom for “boy bonding.” But his dating life soon takes a back seat to the author’s aggressive investigational probe into his molester’s history: a pedophilic sociopathic police officer who the author discovered had not only penned a memoir decades earlier, but adopted 15 wayward boys into his home. Their anguished phone confrontations and Bill’s resultant trial, conviction and imprisonment make for intensely bracing reading. Spinelli’s cleansing confessional becomes the graceful release he’d waited decades to experience. “Closing the door…I caught a glimpse of myself in the beveled glass,” writes the author. “There I was. Not some fractured, mirrored reflection of my former self, but me: short, pee-shy, a man able to make the future better than the past.”

An engrossing memoir about overcoming childhood sexual trauma.