I promised I’d weed through the gigillion books at Amazon and find a few gems of self-published work. I’m a slow and meticulous reader, so in no way will this blog turn into a book review site. But, I do hope to highlight some books worth mentioning as I find them.
My book series, Winter Seedlings, deals with the effects of childhood sexual abuse. So, for the first chunk of reviews, I decided to read books touching on similar themes.
I’ll start with The Goldfish Diaries by Winona Teague.
The Goldfish Diaries is an unusual book in that it deals with the very heavy subject of domestic violence in a way that is accessible to teens. Combined with the fact that the narrator is a goldfish, perhaps you’ll assume this book is too childish for adults to enjoy. But, you would be mistaken. The goldfish is like a fly on the wall, seeing everything that happens in the house and trying to make sense of it. As explained by this description of this book on Amazon: “Through the eyes of their long-forgotten goldfish we come to know the Havens family. Tom: the boy with the broken heart. Millicent: the little girl with the broken teacup. Mrs. Havens: the woman with the broken bones. And Mr. Havens: the man who gave them to her. ”
The Havens family goes through so much, but Tom is the one being pulled in all directions. I empathized with every character Winona Teague created, maybe not so much with Mr. Havens, but I understood why he thought the way he did. Though self-published, The Goldfish Diaries is very well written, believable, unforgettable.
The next book on the list is It’s Not Always About Freud by Adele Scott.
Adele Scott has a Masters degree in psychology and trained as a child psychotherapist. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand. This is her first novel, self-published, and impressive. It is not, however, about a cat.
The story centers around the life of a therapist as well as a situation with one of her clients. I’ll post the Amazon description here:
Thirty-seven year-old psychotherapist Laura Flight works in a mental health clinic and appears to be better at solving other people’s problems rather than her own. She drinks too much, is not woman enough to dump feckless ex-partner, Brad, and is finding it harder to drown out the sound of her ticking biological clock.
Then an attractive new client, with connections to the clinic’s manager, walks into her therapy room. The unfolding events reach a crisis, which unexpectedly jeopardizes Laura’s position in the clinic and inevitably forces her to take charge of her life.
Laura learns the biggest battle she has to face, is the battle with herself.
There is no mention of abuse in the description; and though it is not the central theme of the book, it does happen. Because the author, Adele Scott, is a therapist in real life, this book is full of clinical-speak. I actually enjoyed that and appreciated that she didn’t dumb it down for those of us not in the field. A plus for me was that by the end of the book, I had learned some things about psychotherapy and Auckland.
I hope Adele Scott will write more books. But in the meantime, if this sounds like something you would enjoy, here is the link to It’s Not Always About Freud.
This list is in order from most tame to most graphic. So I am going to put my Winter Seedlings books right here. Most of you have already heard my plugs for them. I’ll just quickly say that they both deal with childhood sexual abuse, mostly the aftermath and recovery. They are both intensely emotional stories focusing more on the psychological effects than the assaults themselves. Both have diverse LGBTQ characters. Each is a complete story within itself, no cliffhanger at the end, just solid unforgettable endings.
And last on the list, yet first in terms of emotional impact is Crush by Laura Susan Johnson.
This book is not a light read. Be warned: you will not just cry, you will sob. Laura Susan Johnson does not shy away from describing atrocious acts of abuse, nor does she shy away from the details of the physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual effects of that abuse. She is a nurse in real life, and in many regards, the author has seen a lot and is not squeamish. I would almost categorize Crush as horror, but I don’t think the author wrote any of this to sensationalize abuse. She is not trying to glorify the pain. The book is intense and there’s no way to read it and not feel changed by it.
The Amazon description is: “Raw, graphic, candid portrait of two young gay men whose love affair is deeply affected by the scars they sustained from childhood sexual abuse. Tammy and Jamie are soul mates, but their love is thwarted for years by bad timing, fear of ridicule, and the damage that lingers long after childhood.”
I hope this is helpful to those wanting to support indie-authors. I’ll continue to post recommendations as I find gems worth mentioning. I am currently reading a few sci-fi novels. I’ll get back to you on those, possibly in March.
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