Books by Jane Wells

Released: April 20, 1996

A young mother is devastated when her ex-husband is gunned down by her abusive current spouse. Wells discovered the hard way that a pregnant woman cannot legally divorce her husband in Kentucky. A single parent in conservative Appalachia, she had gratefully married Michael and asked few questions about his mysterious past. Within a few months she was pregnant, battered, and bankrupt. Though Jane filed charges, the police quietly approved of the law's antiquated rule of thumb. After giving birth to Megan, Jane escaped with her two children. Johnny, her first husband and the father of eldest daughter Erica, offered his help, and the two began a tentative reunion. But Michael tracked her down and demanded to see Megan, though a restraining order got him arrested. Michael was released hours later, immediately broke into Jane's apartment, shot Johnny in front of Erica, and tried to kill Jane. A jury found Michael guilty only of manslaughter. The narrative up to this point is tough and spare: The wink-and-nudge behavior of the local police seems directly responsible for the killing. Yet Wells loses focus in the aftermath of the murder; a promising attempt to scrutinize the spousal abuse common in Appalachia is sadly anemic, and close friends introduced in the first half inexplicably disappear. Ironically, the most memorable characters in the story are the batterers themselves. The last half of the book sees Jane through a move to Cincinnati, to working in a battered women's shelter, and on to college. Years pass in paragraphs and the reader is none the wiser as to why this family—and so many others—went so terribly awry. (Author tour; television and radio satellite tour) Read full book review >