Saturday, September 20, 2008

Review: Courage in Patience

Summary: Desperate to escape from her stepfather, 14-year-old Ashley Asher finally finds the courage to confront her mother with the painful details of six years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. To her horror, Ashley’s mother turns her back on her. Only a teacher at her school offers any support. A touching story focused on the themes of abuse, social injustice, racism, peer pressure, bullying, parental responsibility, fear, forgiveness, love, acceptance, and hope which will inspire the millions of abuse vicitims in America, young and old alike. Suitable for classroom study. No graphic content. -- Kunati

I have been waiting many months to read COURAGE IN PATIENCE by Beth Fehlbaum. The author initially contacted me when I first started blogging asking if I would be interested in reading her new YA novel. Of course, I agreed -- I thought the book sounded intriguing! You can probably guess how excited I was when she sent me a copy a few weeks ago.

I want to say that I thoroughly "enjoyed" reading COURAGE IN PATIENCE; however, the book was at times very difficult so I hesitate to use the word "enjoy." Maybe I should say that I found the book and the subject matter to be very interesting, and I thought it was a well-written story. I thought the abused young girl, Ashley, was very likable; and my heart definitely went out to her and her situation. I also thought the supporting characters, especially her step-mother, were wonderful characters.

What I really liked about this book was how it handled Ashley's abuse and her journey towards self-acceptance and healing. The beginning of the book was terribly difficult to read because of Ashley's abuse at the hands of her step-father as well as Ashley's mother's lack of action. I think the author did a great job of drawing the reader into Ashley's story and causing the reader to care about the young girl. I thought Ms. Fehlbaum did an ever better job of showing the reader that Ashley could heal and "go on" after suffering from the horrific abuse. Ashley was portrayed as a very troubled teen, yet she also appeared to be very strong (even if Ashley didn't recognize it.) When I finished this story, I found the overall message of this book to be uplifting. It was a message of love, acceptance and most of all hope.

As if the story was of Ashley's abuse weren't hard enough to handle, the author also chose to write about some other rather difficult situations such as racism, bullying, and censorship. I was a little overwhelmed at times with all of these issues, but I do think they are extremely important for young adults to be aware of and even to talk about. I do think this book would make an excellent discussion book for mother-daughter book clubs. I tried to find some discussion questions, but I didn't have any luck. I would love to see some developed for this book.

The book is being promoted on the back cover as one that has no graphic content and is suitable for classroom study. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that there is absolutely nothing that parents and teachers might find controversial, but I do think this book would make an excellent discussion book for teenage girls. As a mother of a pre-teen daughter, I would have to say that I wouldn't have a problem with her reading it (when she's a little older); however, I would like to read it along with her to answer her questions and make sure that she was getting the right messages from the book.

I commend Ms. Fehlbaum for writing this book. Not only did I think the book was very "readable," but I also thought it had a tremendous amount of insight into the horrors of sexual abuse. Ms. Fehlbaum is actually an English teacher who has worked with abused children, so I can imagine that much of this novel is based on her real-life experiences. If you would like to learn more about the author and her book, you can check out her website. While you're there, you can read some reviews of the book as well as a discussion on the issue of censorship.


Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

Thanks, Julie! I appreciate the review and the candid insight.

Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse
Ch. 1 & Book Trailer are online!

S. Krishna said...

Whew - this seems like a heavy book, but one that is worth reading. Thanks for the great review!

Anonymous said...

Julie, great review. Sounds like Fehlbaum tackles some tough subjects.

I'm okay with reading these types of books, especially when the ultimate message is one of redemption or hope.

Darlene said...

Thanks for the great review Julie. I'll add this one to my list. While these books are sometimes difficult to read I find them very interesting.

Anna said...

Great review! It is hard to say such books are enjoyable, but I understand what you mean. Sounds like she tackles a lot in this book and succeeds. I'll have to check it out.