The novel opens with Barbara, who, after remembering incidents of torture at the hands of her father, has quite literally broken down. Found inside a disabled elevator, she is no longer able to function with her new consciousness of these memories—those which are so resistant to understanding. Confronted with this knowledge of evil, she must begin the painful process of remembering and reconstructing a new whole self.
Helping Barbara to navigate her grief and her memories are her therapist, the Psalms, and most of all, the words of Paul Celan. Paul Celan: 1920-1970, Poet. An eastern European holocaust survivor who wrote haunting poems about the darker spiritual trials of life and relationships that exhibit a compact style that fuses broken words and chopped syntax to produce a stark musicality.
This is a novel about a woman who goes to hell and back. It’s a story which affirms the resilience of the human spirit and the healing power of love and faith.
Publication date: August 31st, 2004
This is one amazing book. It’s surprising, sensitive, mysterious, confusing, makes no sense but yet it does.
Its writing style is everything I hate in a book – the premise of the book is not stated up front, it’s like a murder mystery, and it’s poetic. However, all these contradictions and contrasts are what make this such a great book.
The story is about a woman called Barbara who was the victim of horrendous abuse as a child at the hands of her father. This story is about her journey, with the help of a counsellor, from a life of isolation and terror to one of healing towards her eventual successful assimilation back into society.
The chapters are short. The early chapters are consistently short which gives the reader a sense of Barbara’s difficulty in dealing with the world around her. Toward the end of the book there are more longer chapters which show a distinct growth in Barbara’s healing process.
This book tugged at my heart strings very strongly. I think the reason for this was that Mary Rakow masterfully only gave the reader snippets of what Barbara’s childhood involved which encouraged the reader to keep reading to see what happens next. I found myself both rooting for Barbara to get well as well as hoping she would take her time – I didn’t want to say goodbye to this strong yet fragile woman whom I had come to know and love as closely as though she was my own friend or family.
This book will forever have a special place in my heart. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a book with a difference and lots of great twists and turns.
Recommended for: Adults or mature younger people.
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (If I could have rated this book higher I would have!!!)