Missing the Mark by Keith Hoerner – Book 58

“If you ever write a story about our family, just make sure I’m dead” -Mom

Missing the Mark: A Target Child Speaks by Keith Hoerner is filled with vignettes about Keith’s life, focusing on the physical abuse he received from his mother and his recovery from alcoholism.

For instance, one short clip discusses how Keith’s Catholic mother turned to him and wondered why the Pope did not allow birth control, making it clear that if she was allowed birth control, that some of her children would never have been born.

Throughout the abuse, Keith yearned for his mother’s love while bearing her physical abuse. . . which probably was part of the cause of his alcoholism.  Being over 5 years sober when the book was published this past March, Keith is able to face his love and hatred for his mother, and for his father, who did nothing to protect Keith from the abuse.

Some aspects of this book reminded me of Falling Leaves: The Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter.  Both Keith and Adeline (from Falling Leaves) do anything they can in order to please and gain the love of their mothers, even withstanding physical/verbal abuse.  They also both are a little naive, believing that someday those mothers would show how much they love and care about them, even though it is clear that the mothers have psychological issues and are unstable.

I think that Missing the Mark was written in order for Keith to heal and be able to move on.  The book focused less on the actual instances that Keith experienced and more on his fight back, even when it was mainly his mind rebelling.

It also is amazing to me, and to Keith, that his other siblings really did not grasp what had been going on.  Did they not notice it?  Were they downplaying it in their minds?  It’s unbelievable that they just didn’t seem to notice that Keith was a “target child” (the target of the abuse) while they were not.

Missing the Mark is a moving story about Keith’s struggle to find value in himself.  I personally would have preferred a little more about the actual daily life of Keith and his mother, but Keith is an honest and open storyteller.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thanks for reading,


29 thoughts on “Missing the Mark by Keith Hoerner – Book 58

  1. How sad that Keith Hoerner had to go through such terrible abuse as a child and now has to deal with it emotionally as an adult too. Reading that he had over 5 years of sobriety when his book was published made me smile. One day at a time really adds up! You also spoke of him fighting back, even when it was mainly his mind rebelling. I must say that I found out in my childhood (although I was NOT a Target Child) that sometimes rebelling in my mind was not simply the only thing I could do, it was the very best thing I could do.

    I was just speaking about this post and book to a friend of mine and she said it reminded her of a book her daughter read when she was younger titled “A Child Called “It”: One Child’s Courage to Survive” by Dave Pelzer and other related books by Pelzer. I think any of your readers who find Hoerner’s book “Missing the Mark: A Target Child Speaks” interesting might find Pelzer’s books interesting too.


    • I actually read part of A Child Called It, but had to stop reading it because it was so incredibly sad. I just couldn’t bear to read the gruesome details of his mother’s abuse. That was probably 15 years ago and before I had children of my own. I don’t know if I could read it again now or not. Have you read Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber? I am sure you know what it’s about if not. Another similar story is found in Sickened: The True Story of a Lost Childhood by Julie Gregory. This is another one I couldn’t finish, but it is about a girl who suffered Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. It is a horrific tale of abuse as well. It is amazing the brutality a human being can endure and live to tell about. By the way, Rebecca, I am new to your blog and was wondering when you began your 100 books goal. 🙂


      • Isn’t it sad that there are so many books out there dealing with these kind of issues? I mean sad because of the actual abuse that happened to these people. Without that abuse the books would not be in existence (unless they were purely fictional of course).

        I have not read Sybil, but I am familiar with the story. I agree, it is amazing the brutality a human being can endure and live to tell about, and Keith Hoerner, a Target child himself and author of Missing the Mark, is obviously one of those extraordinary human beings.


        • I am going to have to read this book. I haven’t heard of it until today, but I seem to gravitate toward these kinds of stories, even though they are so painful to read I can rarely get through them. However, according to the review, it sounds like this book doesn’t focus as much on the abuse, but more on how he was able to deal with it, and that might make his story easier for me to read.


          • Brandy,
            I am glad you are going to read Hoerner’s book, and I know Rebecca will be pleased that her review inspired you to do so. When you are finished, please come back and leave a comment on what you thought of the book. Or you could come back and leave comments or even ask discussion questions along the way. Rebecca loves to discuss books.


          • You’re right, it focuses much less on the actual abuse (although some of it is there, but less than A Child Called it for instance), and focuses more on Keith being able to deal with it emotionally and move on with his life.


      • Brandy,

        I started by 100 book goal in July, and am ahead of schedule! 🙂 Which is good because there are times I get behind, so being ahead kind of keeps me on track.

        I really enjoyed Sybil, even with some of the concern about whether or not it was all real (with the whole controversy of the psychiatrist asking leading questions or not). I read it in psychology class in high school, but it’s a book that has stuck with me. There actually is another one called Decoding Sybil or something like that where someone analyzes Sybil and the book in order to try to find out the truth.

        I think I need a break from the sad books! Missing the Mark, Push. . . I need some children who are happy in my book life for a little while!


        • I really enjoyed Sybil as well! And I have read a lot about the controversy you mentioned. I read Sybil in high school at some point just on my own, after having seen the movie, and have read it several times since. For some reason it just fascinated me! I think the human mind is just amazing. I mean, if her story is true, and her brain was truly split into 16 personalities in order for her to endure what she went through at the hands of her mother (another case where the father completely shut his eyes to any problems) that is just unimaginable. I have also seen the book you mentioned. I think the book you are talking about may be called Sybil Exposed, but maybe you are thinking of something else. I haven’t read it, but I probably will at some point. The problem for me is that I have spent so many years of my life believing that her story is true, and I don’t know if I want to hear that it’s not. I don’t know if that makes sense or not!


          • You’re right! Sybil Exposed sounds more like the title! I think that whether the entire Sybil story is true or not, some things are true, and you can still learn from that case. I’ll let you know if I ever read the other Sybil book!

            And it does make sense that you don’t always want to hear the other side. Because I think the psychiatrist in the book did the best that she could, and it still shows there are many issues that Sybil had.


        • I think I would be doing really well to read 10 books in a year! While I love to read, I never seem to have any time :(, so I am very impressed with your 100 books in a year goal! And the fact that you are ahead motivates me to set a reading goal for myself and to maybe read some books that are a little out of my comfort zone, so to speak! I will have to start somewhere under 100, though! 🙂 I hope you don’t have any setbacks and that you finish ahead of schedule!


          • Any reading in a year is a great goal! I happened to finish graduate school and be lucky enough to do some traveling with my husband for his job, so I have more free time than usual to get reading done. But 10 books for 2013 is a great goal, too! We all have lives and have to fit our hobbies in around them.

            Usually the “setbacks” include when we have company for a few days or something. We do so much that it ends up being harder to find the time and energy to read after a long day of exploring! 🙂 But I think I’ll be able to finish early this year!


    • Good suggestion!! It is similar, especially because, if I can recall, not every child in Dave Pelzer’s family was abused (I could be remembering wrong) but that’s the same with Keith. He and an older sister were targeted, but other siblings had no idea it was going on.

      Thanks for the other book suggestions!!!! You’re right! 🙂


      • You are right! There were other siblings in that book, and they were not abused. I don’t really understand the concept of a Target Child, in that I can’t imagine how a mother could choose just one child and make their life a living hell. I just don’t know how you could do that to a child. I have not read this book, but may have to check it out. You said his story doesn’t focus as much on the abuse, and that might make it easier for me to read. Thanks for the great review! 🙂


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