BOOK REVIEW: Courage in Patience by Beth Fehlbaum

Courage in Patience

Courage to endure.

Courage to survive.

Courage to overcome.

Tenacious 14-year-old Ashley Asher claws her way back to normalcy after enduring six years of an unimaginable Hell. Uprooted from her negligent and selfish mother, Ashley finds solace in the safety of her father's home. Building a relationship with her stepmother, she's finally able to open up and confront the past that haunts her.

With the help of her stepmom, therapist, and a group of troubled adolescents, Ashley battles her demons, struggling to find the normal teenage life she's always wanted. Can Ashley find the strength and courage to overcome the horrors of her past while fighting for the future she so deserves?

Talk about a hard book to review.  As I sit at the keyboard I'm still trying to gather my facts.  So let's start with the facts.  This book was so well written.  The characters, for the most part, were well developed.  Even the ones that pulled from established stereotypes (Step-Dad comes to mind, and to some degree Mom as well) were pretty well developed as individuals.  Ashley was so multi-layered and believable.  So many times it's hard to find a character with her story that is written so believably.  The P.T.S.D, the disassociation, the reactions are so in line with reality.  Some additional backstory on Dad and Step-Mom would have been helpful and added to their dimension.  However, without that it still works.  And works well.  The hard part, of the facts, for me was how many different issues arose in one short summer.  I'm not saying it's not possible or even within the realm of reality in today's world.  It was just hard to feel like each idea was able to be fully developed and handled with proper resolution.  

The facts out of the way, it all worked.  The characters worked, the diverging story-lines worked, even the slightly unbelievable parts just worked.  There are so many trigger warnings in this book that I feel like that should be covered in the synopsis or back cover.  Abuse (mental, sexual, and physical), racism, and violence.  Outside of triggers there's also the idea of censorship and faith gone sideways.  There's a LOT to wrap your head around.  But even with all that it works, and flows, and grips you, and keeps you engaged and and and.  So many more ands.  Seriously, I read this book in less than 24 hours.  I started it one evening and stayed up entirely too late reading it (thank goodness for weekends!) and jumped right back in the next morning.  This story unfolds in so many different facets of life but mingles them together perfectly.  Creating a space where unbelievable becomes believable.  Outside maybe how quickly the F.B.I. was involved (bureaucracy and all).  I have to address one thing that bothered me though.  The churches mentioned in the book, the church leaders mentioned.  There are two, not really developed but they set the idea that church and thereby faith are less than helpful and more likely hurtful.  As a woman of faith I can understand how that sentiment can take hold but I also know that it's not always like that.  The church were Mom and Step-Dad are supposedly involved in now feels like what I refer to as a Candyland church.  More about the feels and the environment and the social than about the faith.  The second church there in Patience feels more like a cult than a church.  Neither truly represent my personal experiences with faith.  Candyland churches are all the thing these days with their power points and coffee bars and themed teachings.  Sorry, I need to get off this tangent.  I see these churches, I see the hold and the belief set that are drawn to them and it hurts that in society (not necessarily this story) all churches are seen in this light.  Soap box gone.  

One more thing to nitpick.  I promise I truly did love this book.  This is listed as a young adult or teen book.  It's so hard to weigh young adult literature on such a heavy subject.  How do you reach all the audiences that could benefit from this book without also putting things before them that they aren't ready to deal with if they haven't encountered it in life already.  Part of me feels like this book should be available in some way for all ages.  Part of me feels like a younger teen, never having been exposed to these issues, would not benefit from this story.  I'd like to say that parent's should be part of that decision but as we all know the kids that would most benefit from this book don't have exactly involved parents making appropriate decisions for their children lives.  Based on the themes I wouldn't necessarily suggest this book as appropriate for under say 16 or 17.  But then again there's a child out there that needs to know that they are enough and that there is hope and help who may not even been a technical teen yet. 

I was provided the opportunity to read this book through NetGalley for review.  I am not required to write a positive review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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Courage in Patience
About Beth Fehlbaum
In addition to writing Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Beth Fehlbaum is an experienced English teacher who frequently draws on her experience as an educator to write her books. She has a B.A. in English, Minor in Secondary Education, and an M.Ed. in Reading.

Beth is the author of the forthcoming Big Fat Disaster (Merit Press/F+W Media, March 2014); Courage in Patience (Kunati Books, 2008); and Hope in Patience (WestSide Books, 2010). Hope in Patience was named a 2011 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Truth in Patience, which rounds out The Patience Trilogy, is as yet unpublished.

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