Posts Tagged ‘sexual abuse’

Charm & Strange

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Win is a young man who believes with all his heart that one full moon he will turn into a wolf. He yearns for this transformation and comes up with elaborate scientific excuses every month when he doesn’t change. But he believes this next full moon will be different. Someone died in the woods near his prep school last month. Win wonders if he did turn and killed the man and then forgot. And if that is true maybe he will remember the change this upcoming full moon.

But there is a hitch. there is a new girl at school, a transfer student. She doesn’t fit in with the rich prep students. And her and Win keep crossing paths which leads to a wary but mutual friendship. So when the next big party comes up he feels the need to look after her. The party just happens to be on the full moon and in the woods where the man died.  Throughout the evening events occur that make Win remember the past. when he went by is first name, Drew, and he was just nine years old.

What has to happen to a young boy to make him believe he is werewolf? And what happens to a young man who remembers those answers? Charm & Strange is the story of a young man torn in two. And tonight under the full moon he will need to piece himself back together if he can.

Charm & Strange is a wonderful novel that keeps the reader guessing at horrible secrets that make up Win’s childhood, while also hoping for the violent and idiosyncratic young man’s search for liberation and recovery from his past isn’t in vain. This book is recommended for ages 16 and up.

The Waking Dark

Monday, December 9th, 2013

The Waking Dark Book CoverThe Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

It has been a year since a series of bizarre murders occurred in the small town of Oleander, Kansas. Just out of the blue a few townspeople killed the first people they saw, and then committed suicide. After a year things have gone mostly back to normal. But the witnesses to the murders still rest uneasily.

Unfortunately there is more murder and mayhem on the way for Oleander. Cass Porter, the only original murderer who failed at her suicide attempt, is whisked a way from the building where she has been institutionalized. At the same time a huge tornado forms outside of town and begins to destroy large swaths of the small community.

The next morning the people of Oleander try to recover from the wrath of mother nature. What appears to be the National Guard arrive but instead of helping the put the town under quarantine. The scary thing is that no one really minds that the town, mostly destroyed, is left alone. People have started to act irrationally, and even violent, lately. The only ones who are not affected is Cass, and the other teens who witnessed the year old murders.

Now as the town falls apart around them while madness and violence rise up in its place can these handful of teens survive? Can they discover why this is happening to their town? They need to act quickly because time is running out before the quarantine comes to the final measure of containment; the total annihilation of the town.

The Waking Dark is an homage to Stephen King (specifically Under the Dome or Needful Things). So if you really enjoy his writing style, Robin Wasserman does a fairly decent impersonation. It is an epic, violent story of a town’s self-destruction through the view points of a few teenagers. So there is lots of violence, and threats of sexual assault. I recommend it to interested readers who are 16 or older.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Friday, July 12th, 2013

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The United States has been overthrown by religious zealots. A theocracy now rules the land and enforces a strict moral code that strips away any rights that women have had. They are not allowed to read and forced into a caste system. Then through disease and pollution people are either sterile or produce mutated offspring called Unbabies.

The lowest member of the female caste system is the Handmaid. Handmaids are made up of women from the time before the revolution who have lead a life of sin, had illegitimate children, or who do not agree with the views of the new state. These women are sent to reeducation camps where they are manipulated and abused until they broken and ready to be used for their purpose: to produce offspring for couples of the elite class. The theocracy uses scripture to force these women intosexual servitude. If the Handmaid cannot produce children they are sterilized and sent to the Colonies, places horribly polluted with radiation and toxic waste, and forced to clean up the pollution until they die.

This is the story of Offred, her real name taken away. She now belongs to a household of a Commander and his wife Serena Joy. Each month she must take part in the ceremony, where the Commander tries to impregnate Offred. Offred’s only respite is her daily walks to gather groceries for the home. But even on these walks there are signs of the horrible conditions life takes on. Offred passes by the Wall where bodies of “traitors” are hung on display. Offred also walks with another Handmaiden and at times they secretly whisper. There may be an organization called Mayday that is part of a resistance. With her life on the line can Offred give into the ultimate rebellion that is hope?

The Handmaid’s Tale is a powerful story that any fan of dystopian fiction should read. It is highly recommended and appropriate for ages 16 and up.

A Librarian Reads Tender Morsels

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

Tender Morsels is a reimagining of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale called Snow-White and Rose-Red. Margo Lanagan takes this short tale and gives it such a breadth and depth that you are bound to the characters and their life journeys. But this new version is just as dark as it is enchanting.

The story starts out with a young girl named Liga. She lives with her father in a run down cabin in the forest near the village. But Liga’s father is not a nice man. He routinely sexually assaults her and goes to the village witch for potions that will cause Liga to miscarry. Liga is young and naive and doesn’t understand what is going on with her body or why her father is so horrendous. Soon she learns that she is pregnant again and decides to hide the fact from her father. When he discovers it he runs to the witch again for stronger potions but on his way back to Liga he is run over by a carriage and dies.

Now Liga is alone except for a new baby daughter. One day she is discovered in the woods by a gang of young men from the village. Liga hides her baby and tries to hide but the boys find her and force themselves upon her. Afterwards she has had too much pain in her life she decides that she and her baby shall leap off a nearby cliff and end it all.

As she is ready to kill her child she is stopped by a glowing magical creature. Liga is given two magic gems, a white one and a red one. The creature instructs her to plant one on either side of her door and she will be troubled no more. Liga does as she is told and on the next morning discovers that her cabin looks brand new and all traces of her father are gone. Everyone in the village likes her and the families of they boys who raped her have vanished as if they were erased from the world.

Liga discovers that she is pregnant again, from the group of boys, and decides to raise her two daughters in the wonderful new world where peace and tranquility reign.

Unfortunately for Liga the world hasn’t changed. She has been unknowingly transported to a magical paradise. The real world still exists and people will find a way to intrude on Liga’s happiness. When that occurs will Liga and her daughters be strong enough to experience the pain and ugliness that only the real world can provide?

Tender Morsels is a superb book and I highly recommend it to everyone. Due to some of the early scenes it is appropriate for ages 14 and up.

A Librarian Reads David Inside Out

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

david-inside-outDavid Inside Out by Lee Bantle

David is struggling  in life and in sports. His relationship with his would be girlfriend, Kick, is faltering and he isn’t do so hot in track this season either. David starts off too fast and loses steam before the meet is over. Kick is there to cheer him on, and he appreciates her a lot. It is just when they are alone and she starts putting the moves on him that things get weird. His body just doesn’t seem to respond, and when he tries to think of anything to help set the mood his thoughts are always drawn to his teammate Sean. He can’t have a crush on a boy, could he? What makes David even more confused is that Sean my reciprocate the feelings. But the rest of the track team is extremely homophobic.  And Sean hates himself for his desires. David just wants someone to love, but he is too afraid of public recrimination to allow himself to be himself. David and Sean form a secret relationship, but one that is never spoken about. And then one day Sean starts ignoring David completely. Meanwhile Kick is wondering why her boyfriend has been so distant and wants answers. David is hurting himself, and those around him. David will have to gain some courage and discover that being who you are is okay, and being yourself is never something to be ashamed of.

David Inside Out is a coming out book, so it obviously deals with a lot of sexual issues. There is also some adult situations. Overall the book does an okay job of getting inside the head of someone struggling to find themselves. It is appropriate for ages 16 and up and recommended for anyone who is looking for gay literature, a coming out story, or just a story about how any romance can get complicated real quick.