Tag Archives: Abuse

Without a Map: A Memoir

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Title: Without a Map: A Memoir

Author: Meredith Hall

Publisher: Beacon, April 2007

Summary:  If you think you had problems as a teen, try finding yourself pregnant at 16, being disowned by your family, and shunned by everyone in your community.  This memoir takes place in the 1960’s in a small New Hampshire town.   Hall’s parents are divorced.  She is sent away from her family, friends, and school to live with her father and stepmother where she is basically ostracized in an attempt to hide her pregnancy.  She is forced to give up the baby and then spends her early adulthood wandering and longing for the baby she gave up and the parents who betrayed her.

She eventually reconnects with her son when he is a young adult, but it is bittersweet as he has been adopted by a family who lived in poverty and had abused him.  Hall ultimately helps to care for her aging parents, offering them what they were never able to offer her.  She is brutally honest in recalling her life.  She takes responsibility for her mistakes.  Hers is a story about hope, survival, and finding forgiveness.

Recommended by: Barbara, Head of Children’s Services

The Weight of Silence

Title: The Weight of Silence

Author:  Heather Gudenkauf

Publisher: Mira, July 2009

Summary:  Martin Gregory wakes one morning to find his seven year-old daughter, Petra, is missing. Although it appears that Petra left the house on her own accord, her parents are starting to panic. When Deputy Sheriff Louis and Martin question Antonia, the mother of Petra’s best friend Calli, they discover that Calli is missing also. Antonia is convinced that the two girls have just ventured off into the woods that border their property and will be home soon. We know better.

Thirteen years ago, Antonia made the decision to marry Griff Clark instead of “Lou” Louis, the current Deputy Sheriff. That decision resulted in two children- 12 year old Ben and 7 year old Calli. It also resulted in a life of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse for Antonia and her children.

In the early chapters of the book, Calli has been dragged into the woods by her inebriated father in search of her “real” father, Deputy Louis. Of course that’s the liquor talking paired with Griff’s intense jealousy of Antonia and Lou’s past relationship. Calli has been mute since the age of four when she suffered from an as yet unknown trauma and now cannot call out for help. This is not hard to believe with a father like hers. So, we know what is happening to Calli, but what happened to Petra? Is Griff even more of a monster than we thought?

This story is told in the alternating voices of Calli, Martin, Antonia, Ben, and Lou. The story grabs you from the beginning and never lets go. I could NOT put this book down! Crimes against children are never pleasant to read about, but the details are handled very well. I cared so much for these characters, and especially those little girls that I had to find out what happened to them. If you want a story that stays on your mind and characters that make a place in your heart, you should read The Weight of Silence.

Who will like this book? Anyone who likes fast paced action and a great story.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

Black & White

itle: Black & White

Author: Dani Shapiro

Publisher: Knopf, April 2007

Summary:  Claire Brodeur lives an idyllic life in Maine with her husband and daughter.  She receives a frantic call from her sister informing her that their mother is very ill.  Claire resolves to return to her childhood home in New York City for one day to assess the situation. Once she returns to New York the reason why Claire abandoned her life and her mother – a famous photographer – is revealed little by little.

The tension mounts nicely throughout the book. In spite of the fact her mother is on her deathbed the story is so well crafted the reader feels real sympathy for the daughter.  In the end, as in life, the relationship is somewhat healed.   Shapiro so clearly writes from her heart that readers may be getting a glimpse of some of her life experience. Also of note: Christina Ricci Productions has optioned the book for a movie and Ricci will be playing Claire.

Who will like this book?:  Readers who don’t always expect constant action but enjoy the slow unravelling of a family secret.

If you like this, try this:  Readers who enjoyed Shapiro’s especially - Family History:  A Novel (2003).

Recommended by: Karen, Administration

Escape

Title: Escape

Author:Carolyn Jessop

Summary: When Carolyn was 18, she married Merril Jessop. She was his fourth wife. Fifteen years later, she took her eight children and fled, becoming the first woman to successfully win a custody case against a polygamist husband. In this harrowing book, Carolyn describes day to day life as a member of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and the monumental struggle she endured trying to protect her children from her petty and cruel ‘sister wives,’ emotionally abusive husband, and the community itself as it sank deeper into paranoia and religious fervor.

With the recent focus on polygamy in the Western U.S., this unforgettable book is as timely as it is fascinating. Jessop’s story is incredible, and her resilience and hopeful outlook are astonishing.

Who will like this book?: People who are interested in polygamy, or life in religious cults. People who like to read about the inner workings of, let’s say…non-traditional families.

If you like this, try this: Under the Banner of Heavenby Jon Krakauer. When Men Become Gods by Stephen Singular. Shattered Dreams by Irene Spencer

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Darkest Evening of the Year

Title:The Darkest Evening of the Year

Author: Dean Koontz

Summary:Dean Koontz makes a frequent use of canines in some of his previous bestsellers such as Seize the Night, Fear Nothing, and Midnight. Here Koontz brings us Nickie, a golden retriever, who has all the attributes of Koontz’s beloved dog, Trixie, who passed away since the publication of this New York Times Best-seller.

Amy Redding, who has established a dog rescue service in California devoted solely to golden retrievers has a secret past. Along with her boyfriend Brian McCarthy, an architect, she rescues a family and their dog, Nickie from an abusive alcoholic. Nickie with some mysterious qualities becomes the alpha dog in Amy’s household. Amy begins to realize that someone is shadowing her movements and Brian begins to receive e-mails from his past. Soon their pasts converge.

This is a fast read and brings an awareness of dog rescue and puppy mills to the reader. Although it doesn’t grab you as fast as other Koontz’ novels, it is still worth a night or two while it tugs at your heart strings following the plight of abused dogs.

Who will like this book? Readers who like thrillers and dog lovers.

If you like this, try this: Marley and Me, for the ultimate “dog fix” and any of Koontz’s previous novels, especially Velocity.

Recommended by: Sandy, Technical Services