Rising Up: Book Review

Beth Fowler headshotPamela H. Bender’s “Rising Up” is not a story focused on abuse or male bashing.

It’s a story of triumph, empowerment and growth.

Anna is married to an abusive husband and finally decides to file for divorce. This is when our protagonist begins the heroine’s journey.

To understand how vastly different her early years were from her adult married life, we are given several chapters that take place during her idyllic childhood. Ordinarily a trip down memory lane is fun for authors to write, but diverges away from the plot. Not so here. Knowing what Anna’s formative years were like puts her adult situation in high contrast. The experiences of her youth also explain how an intelligent, wise, loving woman can find herself in an unimaginable situation. Living with an abuser was unimaginable. When Anna’s parents (the Dennisons) witness their son-in-law verbally mistreat their daughter, the father says, “It’s our fault…We raised her to trust everyone.”

In the tradition of sensitive dramas, the physical and sexual abuse occur off stage. This works because Bender’s story-telling conveys volumes by what she chooses to omit, thereby engaging readers to participate actively in filling in the blanks.

When the pieces of Anna’s new life have come together, she learns she was not the only victim in the family. “Despite the warnings from the girls’ counselors, Anna remained naïve. She’d read Grace and Charlene’s joy at coming home as the end of their ordeal. Instead, it was the beginning of their own strategies for survival.” Then Anna learns that her son, as well as her two daughters, has a secret.

“Rising Up” is the work of a writer who knows the craft. Each character has a unique voice. (Writing instructors say readers should be able to figure out who spoke without relying on speech tags.) Many transitions, although sudden, are economical and smooth.

Because the book is self published, I lowered my expectations. And, yes, there are a few minor flubs, such as a reversed quotation mark. Also, one can’t judge this book by the images and verbiage on the covers.

I cherished each time I opened the book and continued reading about Anna and her heroine’s journey. I rationed out the last few pages. This is what readers do when they don’t want to finish a book populated with characters who seem very real and likeable. Readers who feel a sense of loss at having to say goodbye to a poignant experience upon finishing “Rising Up” will be glad to know that the Dennison family is also featured in “Until There Was Us” and “Worlds Apart.”

Visit Pamela H. Bender at http://www.pamelahbender.com/ and http://pamelahbender.wordpress.com

Review by Beth Fowler, author of the beloved, coming-of-age novel “Ken’s War.”

Visit https://www.facebook.com/kenswar.

 ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

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Trash for Teens?

man-258449_150What are your kids reading? What you don’t know may shock you. Book publishers trying to keep young people’s attention are taking cues from the sex-charged playbook of today’s media-saturated society.

Some books for young people are full of not-so-innocent material while making their way on to bestsellers lists and into your child’s hands.

Several books in the Gossip Girls series hit number one on the New York Times children’s book list. Intended for young girls, the series has been likened to “Sex and the City” for the younger generation. It details teen characters’ exploits in sex, money, drugs, alcohol, and other dramas of high society teenage living. Young readers are eating it up.

Another book, Rainbow Party, made waves among critics when it debuted earlier this year. The plot deals with the subject of oral sex and how a group of girls’ plans to host an oral sex party. Paul Ruditis, the writer of the book, states, “We just wanted to present an issue kids are dealing with.”

Read the rest of the article here: http://www.cbn.com/family/Parenting/BattleCry_TeenReads.aspx

Readers, from pre-teens through adults, also desire books depicting normalcy, dealing with matters we all face, especially as young adults. Readers want books that entertain while exploring life’s important questions.

My hope is that Ken’s War does that.

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When teen hormones and culture shock collide. Get your copy here Ken’s War A new YA novel

ken's war coverNancy Springer, (http://www.nancyspringer.com) an award winning writer, wrote: “KEN’S WAR by Beth Fowler: Vibrant with authority as it depicts Japanese culture, American military life, and the angst of an Army brat, Beth Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion, mirroring the messiness of real life. Ken’s psyche includes a plethora of contradictory impulses, including an awakening sexual awareness handled with delicacy and tact by this gifted author.”