A well-executed tale of abuse, empowerment, and healing.

BETTER THAN THIS

A woman finds her way out of an abusive relationship and makes peace with her past.

In this debut contemporary novel, Zane tells the story of Sarah Jenkins, a wife, mother, and English teacher. In the book’s first chapters, Sarah does not understand that her husband, Robert, usually away from home on extended work trips, is an emotional abuser whenever he is present. Robert’s nature is obvious to readers from the opening pages, as the author’s close narration of Sarah’s thoughts makes it clear how desperately she strives to avoid upsetting Robert and how much of herself she sacrifices in the process. As Robert escalates to physical violence, Sarah draws back from her friends. (“You can’t let her see what a mess you’ve made of things. She wouldn’t want to be friends with you anymore.”) But fellow mother Kate and co-worker Maggie eventually team up to make Sarah face her situation and deal with the unresolved issues of her childhood that have left her willing to put up with an untenable family life. When matters reach a crisis point, Sarah eventually learns to rely on her friends’ support; to make the right decisions for herself and her young daughter, Lizzy; and to stop worrying about the reactions of Robert’s wealthy and judgmental mother. (“ ‘It was the best party, Lizzy,’ Cynthia said. ‘Bestest isn’t a word.’ ”) Zane, a therapist and former nurse, does an excellent job of capturing the raw emotions of her characters and even succeeds in making Robert, the clear villain of the tale, marginally sympathetic when readers learn about the secret he has spent years concealing. The result is a satisfying and cathartic work of women’s fiction that offers an engaging and easy-to-get-into read, perfect for fans of authors Susan Wiggs and Holly Chamberlain. Although it can be painful to read the intimate depictions of emotional abuse, Zane allows the audience to feel like part of Sarah’s support network rather than a voyeur and to ultimately enjoy a difficult story.

A well-executed tale of abuse, empowerment, and healing.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63152-403-5

Page Count: 261

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2018

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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