What She Didn’t Know Gets Big Review

My gritty novel, What She Didn’t Know, has been reviewed by BookLife that is a supplement to Publishers Weekly Magazine that is shown both online and will be in print form May 29 of this year. I’m excited to see the review made by someone at PW/BL that has never read my work! This is a huge moment for me! Thank you, IngramSpark, for this opportunity!

PS: When I get the print copy, I’ll post a picture of my review in it!

Here’s the review via BL online (along with the grades for my story):

Blending aspects of romance, family, trauma, escapism, and spirituality, this novel from Anna (author of Passage of Promise) finds the Barstone sisters—Michaela, Gloria, and Seraphima—reunited by personal will and tragedy in a story set amongst city life and immersed in the natural beauty of Colorado. Years before, as Michaela watched a 13-year-old Gloria disappear from their family’s home after a horrid night of beating and fear, there was no certainty they would ever all be together again. But an entreaty from their ailing mother to “find her” sets Michaela (and eventually the others) on a journey back towards each other—and a past that’s still hard to face. Watching a family return, discover, accept, and heal can be a most astounding step-by-step process.

Anna’s empathetic novel takes on many difficult topics, yet it is still written with an inviting ease—with a featherlike touch—capturing the essence of pain and hurt but not dwelling too much on the details. Readers can infer just how much abuse Gloria endured, what horrid drinking bouts Michaela’s husband has started on, and how not-involved Seraphima’s boyfriend was in their relationship. Anna doesn’t give all of this away to us. Instead, she sets us into small spaces with each sister and paints their individual versions of escapism. Michaela escapes through denial and self-righteous blame; Gloria’s escape is physical (running away); and Seraphima’s is through world-building, a fantasy of marriage.

Gloria’s relationship with discovering spirituality stands out, reflecting her youth and naivety, though she later expresses what she learns in clear, direct terms: “Reality will always return. If there’s anything I’ve learned lately is you’ve got to face your problems, not run from them.” Fitting Ana’s admirably light prose, What She Didn’t Know offers a warm, simple message of allowing oneself to accept and heal. Readers will feel comforted even amongst the chaos and come from it hoping for continued healing for the Barstone sisters.

Takeaway: Touching story of a family’s step-by-step process of healing.

Comparable Titles: Annie M. Ballard’s A Heart for the Homeless, Karen McKenna’s Just Last Year.

Production grades

Cover: B

Design and typography: A-

Illustrations: N/A

Editing: A

Marketing copy: A-

The Catalyst for Your Writing?

Writing friends,

What compelled you to write your first book or short story?

What made you stick to writing stories over the years?

What’s your favorite thing that happens when you write?

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These questions just popped into my head, so I decided to share them in a blog post.

I am asking myself the same questions. Here’s what came to mind in my responses to these questions:

What compelled you to write your first book or short story? When I picked up writing again in 2014, it was my son’s medical history and the power and miracles of God’s holy icons. This was my first story after a nearly 18-year hiatus.

What made you stick to writing stories over the years? The characters and storylines that would enter my head and stay there for more than a few days. I had to write their stories.

What’s your favorite thing that happens when you write? Getting lost in my own storyline and its characters, through writing the scenes. Being in that zone is one of the most amazing and beautiful moments in life to me.

Fellow Writers, please share your responses to these questions. I’d love to see them and discuss. And writer or just reader, perhaps you have something to comment on regarding my writing thoughts. Keep writing!