Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Release Day Review: The Pain Eater by Beth Goobie

Title: The Pain Eater 
Author: Beth Goobie 
Publisher: Second Story Press 
Source: Publisher 
Published: March 7th, 2017 
Purchase: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: She hadn’t told anyone. Not a single soul. Not one word about that night and what had been done to her had ever passed Maddy Malone’s lips. She’d thought about it at first - had been desperate, even frantic, to tell. But then had come the shame, and the intimidation from the boys who raped her - and the one who held her down. 

Now it’s the beginning of a new school year and Maddy is hoping that she can continue to hide, making herself as quiet and small as possible. She is consumed with keeping the memories at bay, forcing them down through small cuts and the burn from the end of a cigarette. But when her English class is given the assignment of writing a collaborative novel about a fifteen-year-old girl, The Pain Eater, fact and fiction begin to meet up. When the boys spread rumors about Maddy, she realizes that continuing to hide the truth will only give them more control, and she slowly gains the courage to confront them.

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Warning: this book and review discuss rape and self-harm. 

This is a book that had me reflecting long after I read the last page. A haunting story about Maddy Malone, a fourteen-year-old girl who, on her way home from a play, is gang-raped by several boys from her school. Maddy tells no one. She never utters a word, and the pain and anguish that fill her torture her every day. When the boys intimidate and torment her into keeping her silence, the only relief she can find is in hurting herself. Burning herself. Because for her, fire is a cleanser – temporarily clearing her mind of the memory and numbing the pain. A sweet relief, if only for a moment.

An outstanding aspect of The Pain Eater is the story within a story. Maddy’s English teacher assigns the class a collective writing project, a novel that each student will contribute a chapter to. Maddy’s fellow classmate Kara is given the first chapter and she begins and ultimately decides what the story will be about. And that story becomes The Pain Eater. A story about a young girl named Farrang who lives in a tribe in the hills of Faraway. She is the tribe’s pain eater. She takes the villagers’ pain from them, and she is treated horribly. She is used and cast aside. As each student reads aloud their chapters, the story begins to take shape; and fiction begins to mirror truth.

It was especially interesting to listen to the different takes on what was happening to Farrang. Some kids thought it was Farrang’s fault that she was in the position she was in. Some thought she deserved what happened to her. And it broke my heart for Maddy to sit and listen to those chapters. But some students took up for Farrang. Some knew it was not her fault. And Maddy also listened to those chapters.

Just one person standing up for someone. One advocate. One supporter. One friend. And that voice can be found. There is an important lesson there. A lesson that has been forgotten and one that needs to be re-taught. Victims need voices, not shame.

I was most impressed with how the author wrote the chapters of The Pain Eater by multiple students. They all managed to sound distinctly different. As one would expect with an entire class writing… some stories were good, and some were, well, not as good. I honestly found myself forgetting this was all written by one author.

A subject matter such as this one is difficult to read… and it should be. But turning a blind eye to it doesn’t make it go away. This book is intended for ages 13 and up. It contains a rape and self-harm. But it also contains a very powerful and important message. When I first finished the book, I wanted justice, more resolution, and to be completely honest – swift and severe punishment for the boys responsible. But after mulling it over, I realized… that’s not what this book was about. This book is about Maddy, the victim. It’s not about her attackers. It’s about the aftermath, the coping, the pain, and then… the road to healing. Healing. And that is a beautiful, magnificent thing.

A huge thank-you to the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 
  
© at A Belle's Tales

  

10 comments:

  1. Whoa. This sounds intense. I so admire the author for tackling such a tough topic and doing it in a unique and positive way. I haven't seen this at all before today, and now you have me wanting to read it. I will add it to the TBR!

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    1. It is but also simplistic in a way that makes it perfect for younger readers, too. The author does an incredible job, and I'll definitely be reading more of her work. I'm eager for you to read this one :)

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  2. "Victims need voices, not shame." CAN YOU SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK!!!! This book sounds gut wrenching but it also sounds incredible. You can tell how emotional this book made you. Wonderful review Wifey!

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    1. I'll shout it from the MOUNTAINTOPS! It really is. A very powerful story. Thank you, lobster <3

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  3. jeezus. I only read one rape book, those are so hard to read, for multiple reasons. I'd find this super emotional and hard to get through I think. It's awesome that you plowed on

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    1. It was such an intriguing story that, even though the subject matter was so difficult, I couldn't put it down.

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  4. Beautiful review, and yes as a mother we want justice..but the journey towards healing is a powerful one.

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    1. Thank you, my friend. That's exactly it! This is such a moving story.

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  5. Anonymous3/08/2017

    This sounds so sad but also really important. I'm glad it focused on her healing. I usually stay away from books like this because they're hard to read about but you've convinced me to try it. Great review

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    1. It's such a unique story. I'm so glad you're going to give it a chance. Thank you :)

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