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Sydney Burke is a librarian and avid birder living in the small town of Applewood. At one of her weekly birding group meetings, she meets Michelle Westbook. Michelle is married to Robert, who, it soon becomes apparent, is abusive, both emotionally and physically. As the two women spend time together, an attraction begins to grow between them.
Mills has written a book about finding the courage to take the first step toward happiness and a future. She writes honestly about physical abuse and why a woman stays and why she leaves that relationship. She also acknowledges the fear of being an abused wife—fear of the husband and fear for her own life. She tells of the embarrassment an abused woman feels about being abused.
As a result, this novel is not always easy to read.
The reader is given the point of view of both Michelle and Sydney using alternating chapters to do so. This may cause some readers problems because not everyone has the opportunity to read to the end of a chapter. Coming back to the middle of a chapter, the reader may be disoriented as to who is telling the story since Mills uses the first person perspective in each chapter. However, if you are a reader who reads to the end of the chapter no matter what, this writer’s device will be no problem for you.
Mills gives us a great deal of fascinating detail about the birds and the flowers in Applewood. It almost makes you want to join a birding group to learn more and see more.
Mills is realistic about Michelle carrying damaging mental baggage from her relationship with the abusive Robert. She doesn’t have Michelle flying into Sydney’s arms and home as soon as she leaves Robert. Michelle first finds shelter at an abused women’s shelter and then an apartment of her own after she leaves the shelter, which allows Sydney and Michelle to build a relationship of their own as Michelle heals, both physically and mentally.
If you are an abused woman, know an abused woman, want to know more about abused women, or simply want to read a good story that happens to have an abused woman as the main character, then this is a book you’ll want to read.
by Laurel Mills
9781935216186, paperback, 212pp