Though newspapers covered what was known to have happened, this is the first and only time Lisa has revealed everything, the truth in all of its shocking detail. With Lisa’s unravelling comes a horrific account of torture and loss, sacrifice and resilience.
In the eye of the law, sometimes it’s just your word against his…
* A candid and first-hand account of how one woman overcame her struggle against abuse during a time when police and laws looked the other way
* A story that raises awareness of domestic violence issues in late twentieth-century America
* Adds fuel to the current need for social justice/human rights reform
* Explores the complexity of children in abusive households
* A story of triumph over evil, of choosing happiness over despair
Targeted Audience/Competing and Comparable Titles
The story of domestic abuse is not new. Prior to the middle of the nineteenth century, most legal systems accepted wife beating as a valid exercise of a husband’s authority over his wife. All states made wife beating illegal in 1920, but it wasn’t until the latter part of that century that the criminal justice system began to treat domestic violence as a serious crime, not just a private family matter. The story of how Americans treat abusers and their victims, then, is new. With ten million men and women annually being abused by an intimate partner in America today, we still have a long way to go. That said, I could recommend that the main targeted audiences for this book are 1. victims of domestic abuse, who need to understand their dilemmas and to find ways to resolve them; 2. advocates against domestic violence, including educators, therapists, counselors, prevention programmers, shelter workers, pastors, and others invested in changing the domestic landscape; and 3. social justice advocates looking to improve the laws and policing agencies that govern our land.
But, this book is not primarily a self-help book for victims and their advocates. It is first and foremost a true-life novel written in first person and geared toward memoir readers looking for a good dilemma to ponder.
Because of its compelling and unusual story, Even Blue Birds Sing would best serve readers by a shelf location next to the following selections:
1. The Glass Castle: A Memoir, by Jeannette Walls. Scribner, reprint edition (January 17, 2006); 288 pages; $7.79 (paperback); ISBN-10: 9780743247542; ISBN-13: 978-0743247542.
When the protagonist in my book contacted me with her story, she asked specifically that it be written in the honest prose that attends The Glass Castle, which is what I endeavored to do. Both stories feature an unusual childhood, and both have strong protagonists, who rise above what life throws at them. For Walls, the obstacle is her childhood; for my protagonist, her dysfunctional childhood is just the jumping off point to a greater dilemma. Unlike Walls, because of my client’s interest in animal behavior as a young girl, interspersed in her thoughts throughout are observations that how humans interact has its parallels in lower animals. And unlike the case with The Glass Castle, the sensitive nature of the subject in Even Blue Birds Sing, as well as my protagonist’s continued underground life, necessitates name changes and a designation, therefore, of biographical fiction, rather than memoir.
2. The Burning Bed: The True Story of Francine Hughes---A Beaten Wife Who Rebelled, by Faith McNulty. Harcourt (Book Club edition 1980); 303 pages; $169.06 (collectible hardcover); ASIN B000GTG6Fl; nonfiction.
Like my book, The Burning Bed was written for a woman who survived her domestic violence experiences and shared them. The victim in McNulty’s novel finds a different way (murder) of escaping the abuse, but like my protagonist, she is tried for her crime and found not guilty. The stories take place in the same time period, when authorities look the other way more often than not, forcing victims to be creative in their solutions. My book takes a wider view of the protagonist’s life, however, including her very unusual and horrific childhood, and unlike McNulty’s tale, mine does not end with a mother reunited with her children, but with a father who still holds his child hostage.
3. I Closed My Eyes: Revelations of a Battered Woman, by Michele Weldon. Hazelden Publishing (July 16, 1999); 262 pages; $12.24 (paperback); ISBN-10: 156838341X; ISBN-13: 978-1568383415; memoir.
Unlike Even Blue Birds Sing, this story shatters the stereotype that partners who are products of happy childhoods cannot be abusive. Both books highlight the difficulties in getting out of such marriages, but again, my book underlines a flaw in the system that allows an abusive father to have custody of his child and to go unpunished for his actions. The action in Weldon’s book takes place in the public’s eye; my protagonist’s adventures underground precede the humiliation of a trial slanted against her by the media. Weldon’s story lacks the unusual aspects of my protagonist’s story, making the former more predictable.