Though her early years were profoundly traumatic, Deborah Daulton Thibodeau’s biography may sound unremarkable: Born into a large, God-fearing Southern family; worked in emergency nursing for more than thirty years; married twice, with kids, grandkids, and pets.
What’s missing from this version of Deborah’s bio is the very ground she covers in her memoir-in-verse, The Serpent’s Tail: Her childhood spent in a religious cult. She details the years of mental, physical, and often sexualized abuse she suffered at the hands of Brother Leo Mercier and his followers, all bound by devoted adherence to “The Message” and the “Prophet of the Hour,” Reverend William Marrion Branham.
The Serpent’s Tail” is a beautifully narrated memoir-in-verse that manages to be both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Told with unflinching honesty, childlike innocence, and with a deep desire to heal unconscionable wounds, Thibodeau’s story glows with resilience and determination. She takes us places-emotional and physical-few will ever experience, or even fathom. Tragedy, abuse, betrayed trust, broken families, brainwashed communities, lost innocence…all are offset by Thibodeau’s youthful courage and undeterred faith. Ultimately,
The Serpent’s Tail is a testament to the human spirit, a tale of hope against all odds.
—John Sibley Williams, author of As One Fire Consumes Another and Skin Memory
After being born into an evangelical religious cult that evolved into an abusive communal life, Deborah and her twin sister Esther experienced vastly different outcomes. Control issues for one, impulsivity for the other. Both attempted to self-heal by healing others. Deb spent thirty-four years in emergency nursing, Esther, sixteen years as an ER Tech. Esther’s subsequent death in 2013, led Deb to write ‘The Serpent’s Tail’, a memoir-in-verse detailing their first fourteen years in the cult and the devastating aftermath. She left the emergency to work with Veterans in recovery. Deb still lives in the Prescott Quad Cities.
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Family ties are the ties that bind us to the past. And give us hope for the future. They are also the ties that take the greatest beating in life. Often frayed, dirty, and imperfectly woven, they still mold us; shape us in ways that are sometimes beyond understanding.