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'The Boys of the Dark' book review: A
light in the darkness

Published: Sunday, August 29, 2010, 7:30 AM


Some crimes are so unspeakable that their effects linger
for a lifetime. Such was the case with the horrific beatings
endured by the youngsters, some only 10 years old, who
passed through the Florida School for Boys in Marianna,
a small town in Florida’s Panhandle, for much of the last
century.

A chance internet encounter between two of the victims,
Michael O’McCarthy and Robert W. Straley, not only
opened up half-century-old wounds; it also launched an
investigation, still ongoing, that has brought more than
500 men who were victimized at the institution into the
limelight to share their shocking abuse, including rape,
shackling, hogtying and extended periods of solitary
confinement.

They went into the Florida School for Boys as troubled
kids, mostly runaways and truants, and emerged with so
much rage that many have been unable to form or
sustain meaningful personal relationships throughout
their lives.

The harrowing book by Robin Gaby Fisher, former Star-
Ledger reporter and Pulitzer Prize finalist, should be
required reading for anyone who works with children,
because the repercussions of their interactions, for better
or worse, last forever.

The Boys of the Dark: A Story of Betrayal and
Redemption in the Deep South

Robin Gaby Fisher with Michael O’McCarthy and Robert
W. Straley St. Martin’s Press, 247 pp., $24.99

Reviewed by Jean Graham

Jean Graham is a freelance writer from Brookside.