‘The Skin Above My Knee’ illustrates life-changing power of music


Photo by Elizabeth Busch

Professional oboist and abuse survivor Marcia Butler draws in readers with her own melody in her memoir, “The Skin Above My Knee,” which recounts the struggle of a gifted young musician whose haunting memories of childhood abuse lead to an uncontrollable spiral into the darkness of drugs, depression and dangerous relationships.

As a young girl with a distant mother, abusive father and rebellious sister, Butler falls in love with the warmth of music. Her passion for music guides her from listening to opera singer Kirsten Flagstad from the carpet to performing musical pieces herself from the stage. Butler’s success as an oboist earns her a four-year full scholarship to the prestigious Mannes College of Music in New York City. However, Butler’s loveless and traumatic childhood casts a shadow on her bright future and shoves her into a cycle of self-destruction and abusive relationships. Butler struggles to survive as she uses her passion for music to fight against the influence of past and present traumas.

Butler’s extraordinary diction and vivid descriptions invites readers to share in her love for the power and beauty of music, even if they have never touched a musical instrument. Her detailed descriptions also allow readers to understand her feelings of longing and loss.

Additionally, Butler’s honest account of her struggles with a distant and abusive family bring the debilitating effects of childhood abuse to light. The clear connection between Butler’s dangerous and self-destructive behavior and her desperation to be loved by her detached mother and abusive father illustrates to readers.

The life-changing effect of music is also illustrated by Butler’s inspiring story. Music guided Butler through a love-deprived childhood, dangerous relationships and depression. Even when she was struggling just to survive, the comfort and safety Butler found in music drew her back. Butler’s testimony allows readers to understand the true value of music and its life-saving powers.

Marcia Butler’s inspiring memoir vividly and honestly describes the struggles of childhood abuse and the powerful influence of music, making it a must-read for musicians and non-musicians alike.