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A Balm in Gilead

Marie Green McKeon. White Bird, $4.95 e-book (254p) ISBN 978-0-9904338-1-1

Vulnerability of heart, mind, and flesh resonates throughout this scathing, affecting thriller about a rape victim's struggle to salvage her identity as she endures social persecution and works to heal the emotional and physical scars of violation. McKeon doesn't blink at queasy themes of sexual victimization, degradation, and political corruption. After Quin Carlisle is raped on a Pennsylvania college campus by student Dennis Price, she faces unsympathetic police and college officials, a smothering family, and dangerously mounting self-disgust. Ten years later, Quin's hope for normalcy after meeting gentle Joe Armstrong in Chestertown, Md., is shattered by a murder reminiscent of her own attack. Local police ignore Quin's attempts to help, and, in her struggle, she crosses paths with Billy O'Brien, a man seeking justice for his murdered brother. Infusing outrage with sensitivity, McKeon injects moral ambiguity into a heartfelt (if structurally convoluted) plot, whose erratic interweaving of past and present occasionally dilutes suspense. Frailties of both victims and human monsters are laid bare, inviting immediate gut reactions ranging from sympathy to disgust. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 09/26/2014 | Details & Permalink

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