Kent (The Day She Disappeared, 2018, etc.) explores the long-term effects of abuse and the way one victim finds empowerment.
Bridget leads a happy, normal life: She kisses her husband goodbye every morning and feels both nervous and excited to meet her teenage son’s first girlfriend. She runs a boutique in town and has made connections with other small business owners on the main street. Yet Bridget also remembers being a young girl, hospitalized because she refused to eat. She remembers, too, her violin teacher, Anthony Carmichael, who showered her with attention and with praise, before he began to lavish her with other, more unwelcome attentions. She has never told her family about this dark chapter of her past, so when Carmichael shows up in her shop one day, helping another young protégé to choose a dress to wear in a performance, Bridget’s careful control on life begins to splinter. And when he returns alone to confront her days later, she does something both shocking and inevitable. In the aftermath, she must work, with the help of her troubled sister, to keep her past and present deeds concealed, little knowing that her family is more deeply ensnared in Carmichael’s web than she could imagine. This is not a mystery, though there is a big twist at the end, nor is it a thriller, though there is much psychological tension. Rather, this is a novel of the #MeToo era; a story about all the jagged fragments that so many women have kept hidden in shame, about the moments they remember from their pasts that make them wonder, “Did I deserve this? Did I ask for it?” This book, through Bridget’s story, unequivocally answers, “No. You are not damaged, you are not unlovable.”
A slow-paced novel that builds empathy; thought-provoking rather than entertaining.