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Smashwords book reviews by HENRY SIMPSON

  • Just Beneath the Surface I on Aug. 30, 2012

    This is a novel about the breakup of a family and its effects on family members as told from the viewpoints of the mother and daughter. Kendall, the mother, precipitates the breakup out of frustration with the immaturity of the father, Michael, and his unwillingness to marry her after a multi-year relationship, two kids, and a shared home. In what follows, Kendall marries a man she is attracted to but does not know well. The two children are separated; daughter with Kendall, son with Michael. Kendall’s new husband reveals himself as an insecure and controlling tyrant who abuses Kendall mentally and physically. Kendall soon shows the classic signs of Battered Woman Syndrome, making excuses and blaming herself for her situation, repeatedly forgiving her abuser, and seemingly unable to escape. (The author has apparently researched the syndrome, for she illustrates it well in this novel.) Kendall’s daughter Diamond reacts negatively to the unsettled environment and soon seeks solace elsewhere. Her bad judgment leads to her own personal crisis involving loss of reputation and friends. The story is suspenseful. As I read, I asked myself: What will happen next? Will Kendall ever wise up to the dangerous bully she has married? Will someone die? Can the broken family ever reunite? I liked the tight, realistic dialogue and the use of alternate chapters written from the intimate viewpoints of the two main characters. The author got inside these two and developed fully rounded, sympathetic yet flawed, individuals with emotional depth. The book was short of descriptions and settings, so it provided little sense of the look and feel of places. Overall, the book was well written and edited. The formatting of the Kindle version I reviewed appeared to be triple-spaced between paragraphs, an annoyance.