“Triangulation: a tactic used by narcissistic parents to change the balance of power in a family system. For example, rather than allowing two siblings to work together, the Narcissistic Parent insists that he or she be the go-between. This controls the way the information flows, the way it is interpreted, and adds nuances to the conversation.” – Band Back Together, adult children of narcissistic parents resources
“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself.” -- Walter Anderson
What do we naturally forget, and what do we force from our minds, wipe the slate clean, when it comes to our childhood? Where in our minds is the blackness and pain packed away, hidden? Behind locked doors? Or in solid chests, pushed to the back of the mind, covered in dust and ashes, only to crack open, leaking out poisons that eat away at body, mind and soul, tiny currents, lapping away at the foundations of life until it is simply not worth living any longer. Crippled lives, crippled relationships. And the pain. The pain, constant and unyielding, thrumming in the background, dark drums in the night, throbbing … throbbing … throbbing …
But the guilt? The guilt is, in a way, can be even more debilitating. You are never enough. Never good enough, never sane enough, never pretty enough or smart enough not not not. . .
The thing is, Dani Wilde doesn’t even know she is damaged. You see, she doesn’t remember. She thinks things are fine. Her life is finally opening up. The four younger brothers she raised are taken care of, all grown up, have good positions, and even the youngest is graduating from college. Finally, finally she can reach for her own dreams. She can take her skills at marketing and accept the position at a New York firm that has been following her through her career as a freelance marketing specialist in Montana. Dani is responsible for keeping the cherry farm her family owns financially stable. She cooks and cleans for a family of six, runs a store featuring local products, runs an online business selling the stores wares, and has a separate business as a marketing specialist for local businesses. She never stops working, never stops caring for others. Just. Never. Stops. But now? Now she can have the life she gave up when her mother died in a car accident, a death that brought Dani back from her full ride at Columbia to take over the household on their cherry farm and raise the four brothers that her mother left behind. These are good time, wonderful times. Dani can finally have a life which doesn’t include having to be everything to everyone else.
Something is happening inside her. Flashes of memory, scenes in her mind that can’t possibly be real.
The door is opening, the chest creaking as the top rises. The dust is blowing away. And what crawls out of the darkness, pale and ephemeral, could very well destroy Dani. And the larger that shadowy presence grows in her mind, the wider the opening, the darker the memories . . . Memories that will literally rip her life to shreds, destroying everything she ever thought about herself, her family, her very life.
The pain . . .
I am not ashamed to say that I cried like a baby over this book. It took me a couple of days to even write this review. Looking back, this almost sounds like a horror story, doesn’t it? And in a way, it is. But it is also a story of incredible inner strength, a story of just how devastating the actions of one member of a family can be upon the lives of all around them. Especially the lives of their own children. This book hurt on a level that is hard for me to even explain.
But that isn’t a bad thing. You see, it is nearly impossible for anyone who hasn’t been there to understand just how Narcissistic Personality Disorder in a parent can shatter the very soul of a child. And that is what this family has suffered, though Dani doesn’t even remember it. And when she does, when her memories finally return, here it becomes not just Dani’s story, but the story of a family so deeply damaged that they may never be completely healed. But it is also a story of a family finding their way towards that healing, towards understanding and relearning how to love one another.
This is, on the surface, a ‘sweet, home town romance.’ And yes, there is romance here. But what makes it SO much better than a ‘boy meets girl’ romance is the cast of characters. Armed with a sharp and unrelenting pen, Kim Law draws a picture of family life that is far from perfect. And it isn’t just Dani’s family that is far from Norman Rockwellesque. Ben was Dani’s first love, first lover, and best friend ten years ago. But one single night separated them. Now Ben, who had his own issues with the coldness and disregard of his famous actress mother finds himself the single father of a four-year-old little girl who is dropped off on his doorstep one day like a load of laundry by a mother who never looks back. Bringing her back to Montana where he spent as much time as possible at one time with the Wilde family, he is looking for some way to connect with the child.
Yes, all of these people are heartbreaking. And all of them – all of them – even the ones I wanted to hit over the head with a very large rock, are worth spending time with. Worth coming to know, coming to understand – if for no other reason than to understand your own heart, your own pain. And some of them? Some of them are worth loving so very much simply for their ability to continue to survive, continue to love, to even know how to love under the crushing weight of betrayals beyond comprehension. This is what makes this book so very heartbreaking – and so very, very worth reading.
This is a six tissue read, and I have to say, when I finished it? I felt, well, cleaner. Like one of the many wounds in my soul had been lanced and bled, and can now heal. Not all, but you know what? As Ms. Law says in her postscript, “You’re not alone. You’re a survivor. You got dealt a rotten hand in life. But you can move on.” Watching her characters do just that? Well, that is the very definition of cathartic.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. Here is the skinny. If you are looking for a ‘simple’ romance story, this isn’t it. If you are looking for a well written book with a strong story, wonderful characters, a realistic look at the damage a serious but under acknowledged disorder can cause, well, you are in for a true treat. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
If you like my review, I would really appreciate it if you would click to “Like” my review here and on Amazon when the book is published on the 28th. It helps draw attention to my reviews, which helps the authors I review garner more readers. Thank you!