Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Review by Lia Constanda

Tis' the season to invest in books for children of divorce!

Book:  The Day My Mother Left  (yes, a divorce fiction book for young teens)

by James Prosek

The writer has published several books for children, focusing primarily on his passion for fishing and nature. James Prosek is also a painter and the above book incorporates in the main character’s traits the writer’s major interests namely, painting, drawing and fishing. The book is ecologically instructive and awakens an interest in nature and what it can offer a child with strong emotional needs caused by his parents’ divorce.
It is a deeply felt story of young boy called Jeremy who at the age of 9 had to cope with abandonment by his mother, his father’s depression, his older sister distancing herself from the remaining family unit, lack of contact with his mother for 3 years, the discovery that mother is emotionally unstable, and the death of a much loved uncle with whom he had a strong bond.
Jeremy suffered enormously when his mother left the family for another man. He dreamt about her at night and thought about her constantly. Little things reminded him of her:”It was June, and the daffodils I’d helped my mom plant last fall were flowering. Was she planning to stay to see them flower? Songs she used to sing came into my head. I could hear her voice singing as if she were in the room with me.” The mother took with her his work, the “Book of birds”, his most treasured possession. He wandered how she could take his work and abandon him?! He threw himself into re-creating the “Book of birds”, his collection of drawings.
His emotional journey is heart wrenching. His healing is significantly aided by his love for nature, drawing and painting. The support from friends and extended family is invaluable.
The father also suffered a great deal of pain when the mother left. The father/son relationship is strained due to the damage the mother’s abandonment caused to both of them.  This reality is an important dimension to the story.
Jeremy’s life moves on. Father has remarried. Jeremy has new interests. He is more settled. Things are calm. Then, out of the blue, after 3 years, he sees his mother at the school playing fields holding by hand a young girl. She seems not to recognize him.
Eventually, the mother contacts Jeremy by telephone. He learns that the mother lived nearby all these years and that she could have kept in touch with him if she wanted to. He remonstrates with her but she has no credible explanation for her failure to keep in contact. Later, the mother attempts suicide because she is concerned that the man for whom she left her family may be on the point of leaving her. She becomes a liability. She is diagnosed borderline personality. She turns to Jeremy and his sister for love and support. He is only 12!
In the end Jeremy is reconciled about his mother. After discovering that she is unstable, he describes his relationship with her as “standing on two distant mountains with a bottomless canyon between us…. There was no way of crossing the canyon, but at times the clouds cleared…”
The book makes for lovely reading. It is a story of hope and resilience and how a boy can navigate through difficulties by remembering what is good in life. It addresses many important issues in relation to children of divorced parents and it is a useful tool for any child in similar circumstances. It is also good reading for the parents.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Evil in Our Midst

This past week I read a book by Sharon Doty titled Evil in Our Midst.  As a sexual abuse survivor I assumed I was fully equipped through experience to protect my own child from sexual predators, boy was I wrong.
Sharon points out our approach as a society addressing the prevention of sexual abuse is really not prevention at all.  The current trend places a great amount of pressure on children to be responsible for the verbal and non-verbal actions to stop an abuser. But after numerous interviews with abusers and countless hours of research, she has found that educated adults can have the tools necessary to prevent children from even being given this burden.
Yes, Sharon, identifies the culture and means by which an abuser takes liberties to abuse.
Her approach to educated us, the parents and community, to recognize potential predators and recognize our part in creating an environment conducive to abuse is a light amidst a very dark and dangerous culture.
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in being part of a global solution to ending sexual abuse for our children.
Thank you, Sharon, for the enlightenment.