survivors and heroes

Wednesday morning I grabbed a cup of tea, put a pile of books I hoped to talk about on my work table, and dialed in to Kathleen Brooks’ studio phone line.

A few minutes later we were launched into an hour long, intimate discussion about healing from abuse, role models, stereotypes of survivors, and the writing and publication of Strong at the Heart.

Our conversation was broadcast live on the Internet and is now archived at Kathleen’s Ethical Life site.

You can play the segments one at a time there. I had fun exploring her archive and listening to the voices of leaders in the child abuse prevention, treatment, and advocacy fields.  The site is a treasure trove.
As an interviewer, Kathleen has a gift for putting guests at ease. She asked questions that I’d never been asked before.

If you are curious about the stories behind this book, legal issues around publishing survivors’ stories, or the stereotypes that can stand in the way of healing, you might want to check it out.

pretty girl

For a thrilling YA read, with an unforgettable survivor/hero, be sure to pick up Laura Wiess’ Such a Pretty Girl.

No stereotypes here. Fifteen year old Meredith is a complex and determined teenager who is furious that the man who molested her—her own father—is out on parole instead of serving his full sentence. Not only that, but her clueless mother wants him back in their lives!

Meredith is the antithesis of a passive victim. She has more than her share of challenges, but she never gives up and she finds allies in her struggle to protect herself and other kids. There is lots of action, suspense and danger before the stunning climax (don’t try this one at home, kids). Definitely a thriller.

By |2017-06-13T20:45:39+00:00January 26th, 2007|books, media, websites and weblogs|2 Comments

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  1. Austin of Sundrip Journals April 5, 2007 at 7:41 am

    I’m under the category survivors and heroes but I’m a bit stumped. Are these real life experiences or dramas of people who have survived sexual abuse.

    I understand that you yourself are a published writer and seemingly successful at what you do but I’m a bit bothered by how you’ve described some of these survivors of abuse. “Action, suspense and danger, definitely a thriller” sounds like a work of fiction, which it may be because as I said, I’m not sure if these are real people or fictitious survivors of abuse.

    If you want a real account of inaction, anxiety, horror and definite fright one might try reading When Rabbit Howells or MPD From The Inside Out or heck the book about Sybil.

    If they want a real account of how it is to live with abuse one might try reading the blogs of survivors. I’m sure the words action and thriller won’t show up as they describe their father being paroled or as they live in the same state with the mother that refused to protect them or participated in the abuse herself.

    Somewhat stumped and disturbed,
    Austin of Sundrip

  2. Carolyn Lehman April 12, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Wow, Austin, wasn’t it clear from the write up that Such A Pretty Girl is fiction? If you look on this site at the Favorites>Books and Films page on this site you’ll see that the books are categorized by fiction and nonfiction.

    One of the things that I do as a book critic is observe and write about the depiction of sexual abuse survivors in books for young readers. Yes, some of the ways we are portrayed are very disturbing–and very unrealistic.

    On my site you can download an article about this very problem. It’s linked at the bottom of Books and Films and has a fuller discussion of stereotypes of survivors in literature.

    I am sorry that it wasn’t clear to you that this blog entry is about a work of fiction, and young adult genre fiction at that. The motif of child sexual abuse is being used a lot now in mysteries, thrillers, and other works of suspense. Some of the portrayals reinforce damaging stereotypes about who we are and what we experience.

    For this kind of book, I like Such a Pretty Girl because the survivor/heroine is not portrayed as a passive or pitiful victim. She takes action. She is a teen who tries her best within the system and when the system fails her, she still believes in herself and she strives to protect herself and others.

    This book is NOT a realistic portrayal of a survivor with DID (dissociative identity disorder) as in the excellent, adult nonfiction books you recommend. Meredith does not dissociate, she rages. There is a wonderful fictional book for young readers that does portray DID as well as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder—although I have to say I disagree with “disorder” in these descriptive terms because they are ways that children make order out of traumatic lives). If you haven’t read THE DREAM WHERE LOSERS GO by Beth Goobie, I would urge you to do so. I’d like to know what you think of it.

    Please, do bear in mind that this site, and my books, are for young readers—as well of course for adults who are interested in kids books.

    BTW Strong at the Heart is definitely nonfiction. It does contain true stories of dissociation and PTSD. I hope, if you check it out, you will find that it rings true.


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