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.
It means a lot to me that there are at least a few candidates this election cycle who are truly focused on humanity and the wellbeing of humans, rather than the bottom dollar/profits.
One candidate in particular is focused on lifting up the SAHMs (stay-at-home-moms), mothers of special needs children, and caregivers that are so often overlooked in an economy that is judged by what you produce via the GDP and profit margins.
Democratic candidate, Andrew Yang caught my interest when he was on the Joe Rogan radio show a couple months ago. I’d never heard of Rogan and had never seen or listened to his radio show, but I was curious to hear more about Yang’s UBI (universal basic income) and what it entailed.
It was through that interview that I learned Andrew and his wife have two children, one of whom is autistic. Andrew’s wife stays home with their six and three-year-olds, which is hard work that is hardly acknowledged, as I said above.
It came to me, as a mother who also was a SAHM to a special needs child who went through two brain surgeries and radiation treatment for a brain tumor at thirteen months and two and a half years old, followed by constant care for his g-tube feedings, drives to therapy and helping him at home with the therapy (over several years) done at the centers. I could totally appreciate and admire Yang’s spotlighting women like me and my friends who are caregivers and mothers of special needs children and grown children that still need one hundred percent care.
Although Andrew Yang is a millionaire entrepreneur and has the resources that help his wife in caring for their autistic son, he is not detached, distant, or out of touch with those families who aren’t millionaires and struggle either paycheck to paycheck, or are getting by, but have great emotional and physical stress caring for their sick family member or special needs child.
If you haven’t been following Andrew Yang via his appearances on TV news shows and talk shows and speaking engagements at various venues, he is promoting a universal basic income for everyone, stated in his campaign’s website:
In the next 12 years, 1 out of 3 American workers are at risk of losing their jobs to new technologies—and unlike with previous waves of automation, this time new jobs will not appear quickly enough in large enough numbers to make up for it. To avoid an unprecedented crisis, we’re going to have to find a new solution unlike anything we’ve done before. It all begins with the Freedom Dividend, a universal basic income (UBI) for all American adults, no strings attached – a foundation on which a stable, prosperous, and just society can be built.
So, Yang wants to implement a Value Added Tax (VAT), among other things, to pay for this Freedom Dividend. You can read the details here. The amount of the dividend would be $1000 per month for every American citizen eighteen years and older.
Andrew wants to ditch GDP as a measuring stick of how our economy is doing. Why? Because the more automation takes over human work, especially self-driving trucks, the GDP will be through the roof, while the average person’s life will not match that but be much lower.
There is a whole other path to go on with the loss of jobs, just in the truck driving sector alone, that will cause the spike in suicides, homicides, and depression that are also important to be aware of. But I don’t have the space and time to get into that in this particular blog post. Perhaps I’ll delve into that at a later time.
So, here’s my favorite part. Andrew Yang wants to measure the economic output of our country by the wellbeing of the people. How are working people doing? How are the children?
He is the first person running for office that I’ve heard talk about the importance of the crucial work stay-at-home moms, mothers of special needs children, and caregivers do in our society. It is true that the work that SAHMs do is vital, considering they’re raising up the next generation of people who will be leading and contributing to the country and perhaps, the world. That $1000 a month would compensate at least for a beneficial foundation for mothers and caregivers who do, truly work from home.
I really hope that his plan is implemented in some way in the near future, because my best friend really, really needs this foundational relief. She is a mother of six mostly grown children, with a husband with chronic back pain and suffering from the permanent effects of a concussion he got more than two years ago. He, for the most part, is stationary, in his bed a good portion of the day, when she’s not driving him to therapy to give him some relief from the concussion. It’s been roughly twenty years that she has been taking care of her husband with his horribly painful back problems.
In addition, her second born son has schizoaffective disorder, as well as epilepsy–the latter surfacing more recently. She works with him through therapy she learned through many years of taking him to therapy. He also has a psychiatrist. He is on strong medication for his mental illness.
My best friend’s husband cannot work since the concussion and retired early on disability. They are struggling keeping afloat with the loss in income and many medical bills because of her family members’ needs.
The past year or two, she took on a night shift waitressing job 2-3 nights a week. Now, she’s cut down the hours and days and is training to work at a shelter. She’d be working 2-3 evenings a week. This is insane, isn’t it?! She should be able to be at home, caring for her ill family members!
Every time I hear her struggles, I get very angry and upset. I wonder how a rich, bountiful country could allow families to scrape by, with mothers away from home when their special needs children (young or grown) depend on them to function? It’s nearly unbearable for me to know my best friend and her family are suffering so. It’s morally wrong.
We texted this morning, and she told me about the increase in her son’s seizures, and the doctor trying to wane him off an old seizure med and increase a new seizure med. She ended her response with “Go, Yang”. Yes. What a difference Yang’s UBI would make for her and mothers and families just like hers.
In wrapping up this blog post, here’s a short, moving video of Yang and what he stands for that I really liked.
Andrew Yang is one of the 2020 presidential candidates I’m following.