Author: Katie O’Rourke
Riley refuses to call herself a battered woman – she doesn’t fit the profile.
When her boyfriend Ben hits her, she doesn’t know what to call it. She does know to pack her things and run to the one place that feels safe – home.
Riley discovers she’s pregnant and her emotions become tangled. She can’t shake the fact that she’s still in love with Ben…
A horrific accident then turns Riley’s world even more upside down, forcing her to accept help from those around her. Before she can begin to heal, she must learn the difference between being independent and being alone.
A gripping emotional drama, perfect for fans of Anne Tyler and Anita Shreve.
My Review: Riley doesn’t seem like the type of girl who would fall into an abusive relationship. She’s from a “good” family, is educated, highly intelligent, and confident. She doesn’t seem the type who would go back to her abuser, or who would miss him once she was separated from him. But this is what Riley does. Because it can happen to anyone, even to those you would least expect. As the author delves into Riley’s past and her family life, we uncover elements of dysfunction that might lead to future unhealthy relationships, but isn’t that true for almost all of us? We all have issues and baggage. Why is it some of us end up in abusive relationships while others do not? Abusers and their victims don’t always fit a certain mold, and this is one of the most thought-provoking themes in this novel.
We meet and get to know Ben–the abusive boyfriend. We find out about his past and what might have led to his outbursts of anger. And, we learn enough about him that while we might not condone his behavior, we can have compassion for him as a human being. We also meet Riley’s parents, her best friends, and her brother. We meet Ben’s mother and discover her hidden pain.
I’m so appreciative of the way O’Rourke tackled the issue of domestic abuse. I’ve read works of fiction that have tried to explore this issue, but most rely on stereotypes. The meek victim cowering in the corner, believing she deserves the abuse because she grew up watching it happen to her own mother. The cruel abuser taking delight in tormenting his victim. Sure, victims and abusers like these exist, but it’s important to show the reality of domestic abuse. Not all victims are the same. Not all abusers are the same. There are various shades of domestic abuse. It’s not all black and white.
This book is not all about abuse. It’s about relationships between families, friends, and significant others. It’s about secrets, hard decisions, and dealing with depression and trauma. It’s an emotional read without being over-the-top. The dramatic scenes are realistic and believable. And even the author deals with some pretty heavy issues, there’s hope for the future as we watch Riley evolve and grow.
There’s so much about this novel that was spectacular. It’s a book that stays with you, and changes you just a little bit. This is another one of those books I wish I would have read as part of a book club. I’d definitely recommend this to just about any reader over age 18.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars