Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hiding to Survive


Whenever I find a book by Anna Quindlen, whether in the library or at a bookstore, I start reading an excerpt and the next thing I know I am checking it out or buying it. Her writing draws me in because it is often presented like a mystery but it isn’t a mystery in the true sense. My latest find, “Black and Blue”, was published in 1998. It is a story of domestic abuse and violence, and the people in this country who are finding ways to escape it. Anna Quindlen was a columnist and this story reads like non fiction mainly because it is written in the first person.

Frances Flynn, the protagonist and heroine, met Bobby Benedetto in a bar in Brooklyn when she was nineteen years old. She was a student nurse and Bobby was a New York City policeman. The first episode of abuse happened before they were married. But they did marry, they had a son, Robert, the abuse continued and became more and more violent. The novel opens with Fran relating how she and Robert were running away from Bobby Benedetto, as far and as fast as they could.

Fran Benedetto found someone who would help her escape. A woman came to the hospital where Fran worked to talk about domestic abuse. Patty Bancroft gave Fran what she needed to get away from her husband------a new identity and a place to hide and start a new life.

Fran, now Beth Crenshaw, and Robert began their new life in a nondescript town in Florida. Beth was constantly comparing all that she left behind with her new life, one without fear. But Fran/Beth was ever watchful, trying to keep herself and her son from doing anything that would give her husband a chance to find them. And when there were slip ups Fran refused to give in and relocate again, a mistake she would soon regret. This story is a page turner. Anna Quindlen has an important, heartfelt message for the reader which she portrays with strong, descriptive language. The way it is written Fran Benedetto seems like a real person, someone you might know. Anna Quindlen said, “ I have a soft spot for every character I’ve created, but perhaps none has lived inside me so completely, and so happily, as the nurse from Brooklyn who had the guts to take her son and run from her policeman husband. I still miss being with her, all these years after I first lived inside her skin.”

“Black and Blue” is an engrossing story with a heroine you will not easily forget.

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