Monday, October 19, 2009
To begin today's post, I'm sorry for not posting anything last week. I caught a vicious bug going around (shudder, shudder, cringe some more) and was pretty well wiped out for nearly 5 days. Good times--NOT! ;)
Enough said, and onto today's post, which is a review of a wonderful new book by Jennie Hansen. In my opinion, this new suspense novel will affect numerous lives in a good and positive way and I am honored to review it in a public fashion. This is a book that I highly recommend---if I posted stars as a rating system, it would rate 5 out of 5.
Jennie is a talented writer and author of several popular LDS books. She also writes informative and fair book reviews for Meridian Magazine, an online LDS resource. Jennie's latest release is a book entitled: "Shudder." In the pages of this book, Jennie has courageously tackled a difficult subject matter--spousal abuse. Borrowing from a paragraph in the acknowledgments of this significant book:
"Shudder is a book I knew I would write someday. During the years I worked as a reporter, served in Relief Society, and even while being employed as a librarian, I heard stories from lonely, isolated women. I witnessed the bruises, the broken bones, and the haunting fear in their eyes. I became the confidant and only friend of one such woman. I was a visiting teacher to another . . . I have heard General Authorities and prophets denounce those men who would inflict pain on their spouse and children, declaring them unworthy to hold the priesthood. The truth is that no woman deserves to be abused by the man to whom she has given her trust fully
. . ."
Jennie has done a great job of weaving a storyline that illustrates how devastating abuse can be, no matter the form. Verbal, physical and sexual abuse are wrong and lives are destroyed when this type of behavior takes place.
The two main characters of Shudder are close friends: Clare and Darcy. They grew up together, best friends who have always been there for each other. Surprisingly, their home lives were as different as day and night. Darcy grew up in a typical LDS home, one filled with loving siblings and parents who treated each other with respect. Darcy was raised with love and support and she matured into a loving, strong young woman with high ideals. Saddened by the tragic death of an older sister, Darcy rises above the challenges in her life to reach for important goals.
Clare, on the other hand, was raised by an ailing mother who eventually passed away, leaving the young woman on her own as an orphan. Though Darcy's family did their best to include her in important family gatherings, Clare struggles with an inherent emptiness. The need to be loved seems to be filled by a young man named Blaine. Clare falls in love with the attractive young man from a prominent family, unwilling to listen to Darcy's unease about the kind of person she suspects Blaine to be. His belittling manner and domineering ego clash with everything Darcy knows is good in a relationship.
Though Blaine is a returned missionary, his rude and selfish behavior indicate he is an aggressive predator. Closing her eyes to the danger, Clare ignores the warning signs that she is in an abusive relationship, and she acquiesces to Blaine's outrageous demands, certain that he is her knight in shining armor.
The final straw for Darcy is Blaine's insistence that he move in as a roommate to her and Clare. When Darcy refuses to cooperate, Blaine moves in behind her back, prompting Darcy to move out. From that point on, Darcy and Clare head in opposite directions. Clare accepts Blaine's proposal, and though her wedding is not what she had always dreamed it would be, she convinces herself that marriage to Blaine will fulfill her desire for a loving family. All too soon she realizes that Blaine is not the man she believes him to be and she turns to the one person who has always been there for her in the past, Darcy.
While all of this is taking place in Clare's life, Darcy continues with her education, completing her student teaching at a local high school. She meets and begins dating a wonderful young man named David. Unlike Clare's experience, Darcy establishes a healthy relationship with David, who embodies what a priesthood holder should be. Lending encouraging support, David helps Darcy survive a dangerous situation where both of their lives are in mortal peril.
Full of surprising plot twists, "Shudder" will keep you on the edge of your seat as you read on to see what happens next. This is a book every woman should read. Not only will it open the eyes of women who haven't experienced an abusive relationship, but it may give those who have the courage to reach for a different life.