An engaging though disturbing view of rape and child abuse from a seldom-seen perspective.

SISTER OF SILENCE

The memoir of a woman who married the man who sexually molested her from the age of 13, and her subsequent psychological struggles to be freed from his abuse.

Daleen Berry thought she was having a fairly happy childhood, except for her father’s occasional drunken outbursts of verbal and physical abuse against her mother. So when Berry’s neighbor, Eddie—a young man her family likes and the older brother of one of her friends—pushes her into actions she knows are wrong, she tries to stay a “good girl” by convincing herself they’re in love, resolving to marry him one day. When Berry becomes pregnant at 16, they finally do get married; so begins more than a decade of verbal abuse, marital rapes and Eddie’s complete disregard for Berry’s control of her own body. He forces her to have four children before she’s 22. As Eddie’s behavior deteriorates and he finds himself unable to hold a steady job, Berry begins to work outside the house to help make ends meet, despite Eddie’s protests and ridicule. Only then does Berry realize that the abuse she suffers isn’t normal—and it isn’t her fault. To her credit, Berry doesn’t present herself as a saint, nor Eddie as a complete monster. In the book’s foreword, Kenneth V. Lanning, a former FBI agent and consultant in crimes against children, introduces the running theme of the book: Acquaintance or marital rape is still rape. Berry raises the interesting—and uncomfortable—specter of a teenage girl’s budding sexuality being met by the inappropriate attention of an adult who should know better. She questions society’s tacit acceptance of violence toward women, yet all in an involving story of her background, adult life and gradual awakening to her own situation, along with her demand for something better for herself and her children. Berry—an award-winning journalist in her native West Virginia—is an engaging writer, her style fluid and easy to read, with welcome touches of humor and sustained tension throughout. The ending isn’t quite as resolved as one would hope, given that the events described seem to be well in the past, but Berry gives her maturing awareness and growing strength an intriguing, thought-provoking treatment.

An engaging though disturbing view of rape and child abuse from a seldom-seen perspective.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615388601

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Nellie Bly

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

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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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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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