I've read "EVERY MOTHER'S NIGHTMARE: The Killing of James Bulger", by Mark Thomas. I said this in my review of that book: "Written in 1993, soon after the murder trial of the two ten-year old killers of young Jamie Bulger, this record is sensitive, factual, compassionate and objective." It's also told mainly from Denise Bulger's point of view.
When I saw MY JAMES, written by his father Ralph twenty years after the crime, I bought it to gain another perspective of this horrific crime. I expected to feel much as I had when reading Every Mother's Nightmare: a deep compassion for James and his family, and a horrified shock at the nature of the crime.
Well! Reading this book takes one far beyond compassion. With its easy and accessible style, this is more a written "confession" then it is a biography of young James. The depth of emotion that has poured out of Ralph Bulger's soul had a seismic effect on me: I could not read more than a few pages at a time, which is why it took me so long to read it. Even then, sometimes I could hardly see the pages, I was crying so hard at the level of emotional suffering woven into these words.
MY JAMES can be informally divided into four sections: life with the happy toddler James; his abduction, murder and trial; the release of the two killers; and the return to prison of the one killer for Category Four child pornography.
This book is a cry of pain from a father who has stared into the gruesome face of pure evil and,even worse, has been betrayed by the judicial system that should have eradicated that evil without compunction. As Ralph says, "It was always about Thompson and Venables - their treatment, their recovery, their progress, their education and their human rights. I think that, morally speaking, they gave up their human rights the day they battered and murdered my son."
One has to wonder why the rights of the horrifically tortured victim, James Bulger, were and are considered of less importance than the rights of two people who, when they were mere children, consciously and deliberately chose to do evil when they abducted James on that fateful day with the intent to kill. And still they show no remorse for their crime.
Although Ralph and his family's personal and enduring emotional pain forms the very core of this book, the most powerful impact of this story is that it forces one to address one's deepest beliefs about good versus evil, law versus justice, and anger versus forgiveness.
If this book will linger in my soul for ages, how much worse must it be for the family who actually had to experience this? I can only wish them well as they struggle towards some sort of healing, and hope that they find more joy and less sorrow in the coming years.