Today, I will reclaim this blog for its original intent: reviewing books and encouraging book discussions among others. I've succeeded often at the first, but have proven woefully ineffective with the second. But I'll never give up!
Birth of the Phoenix, by Harriet B. Varney Miller, has a stunning young woman elegantly dressed and posed in front of a rising phoenix. It is a treasure that ought to be on the front page of local papers and in the windows of remaining book stores. I picked it up because it was written by a local. I am so glad that I did.
It is a multilayered, many faceted story of growth, and it begins with a young woman living with an abusive husband and a very young son. The character's (not the author's)perspective of marriage is based on her own experience, and on her parents. Her parents were loving and nurturing, and so she wishes to be the same. But her situation is dangerous; she married young, right out of high school and just after her loving parents were killed in a car accident. She believes that her husband would love and care for her. Instead, she lives in a repressive home, with a man who limits her contact with others who might have allowed her to see a different style of family love. She feels worthless, and ill-equipped to leave for her own and her son's safety. But eventually she finds the strength and means to do so, and begins a journey along a new and different path.
The author had spent time helping victims of Hurricane Katrina, and so a bit of that story comes into this one. She uses her characters effectively to point out social inequities and discriminatory practices. She also has characters who embody the goodness that we all believe still exists in our society ... social workers, child care workers, neighbors and new friends who have shared similar heartache and know how to listen to each other, and how to support goals and respond to defeatism.
This book would be a great gift for anyone just emerging from high school, someone looking around at the world beyond school, and preparing to make choices that have immediate ramifications. It is a book that will encourage young people to be aware that choices can be changed, and that negative feedback can be wrong.
This is a book that celebrates the strength of women. It is a book that opens eyes to possibilities. It is a story that will make a reader stop and think back on younger years, or pause and look carefully before taking the next step forward. I am so glad that this author's proximity caused me to find and read this book, and to share it here with you.