Courage In Patience
by Beth Fehlbaum
Reviewed By Alicia Mangum
Courage In Patience is one of those incredible literary jewels that comes along so rarely that, upon discovering it, you can't help feeling privileged for being among the first to read it.
Beth Fehlbaum has crafted such a moving, inspirational tale for the ages that it's hard to believe that this manuscript, as yet unpublished, will remain in the throes of literary oblivion for very long. Every page, every chapter, every progression of story and character is so compelling, so absorbing that you actually hate to see it end - and you find yourself re-reading it again and again, if for nothing more than the heartwarming pleasure derived from doing so.
Fehlbaum's narrative is centered on 14 year-old Ashley Nicole Asher, not-so-affectionately
called "Ash-Hole" by her stepfather, Charlie. It's that same stepfather who initially manages to ingratiate himself into the lives of then-six-year-old Ashley and her mother, Cheryl, with gifts, wise-cracking humor, and faux-protective tendencies. Once he's firmly rooted within the routine of their lives, though, his monstrous true colors begin to show, mainly in the form of indecent sexual liberties taken with Ashley herself. He shamelessly molests her for eight years until he crosses the line one day and sexually assaults her in brutal fashion, resulting in the intervention of Child Protective Services, who
promptly sends her to live with her absentee father, David, and his new wife and son in Patience, Texas.
After years of a tortured existence at the hands of her mother and stepfather, it is in Patience that Ashley finally begins to heal and learns to open her heart to trust again. The process is not an easy one, though, and if not for the steady support and guidance of her savvy stepmother, Bev, Ashley may never make a full recovery. On her personal road to wellness, though, Ashley soon bonds with other bruised souls similarly conflicted, in a small town struggling to come to grips with its own need for healing - along racial, spiritual, and emotional lines.
With its full-dimensional characters and richly converging storylines, Courage In Patience will teach you more than a few lessons about the importance of forgiveness - both of others and yourself. Fehlbaum does a masterful job of displaying the power of simple communication and empathetic compassion in overcoming some of the toughest obstacles facing us as a collective whole. Regardless of the divisions that tend to define us, her storytelling conveys the undeniable need we all have to come together
if we ever expect to bridge the rifts left to us by our familial and societal traditions.
Supported by not-so-random, insightful quotes from the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr., Buddha, and Louis L'Amour, Courage In Patience is an absolutely essential tome that needs to be required reading in schools, churches, and counseling centers all over the globe. An instant classic from a supremely talented mind and wonderful heart!
Interview with Apex Reviews:
Beth, thanks for joining us for this interview. Thanks also for the opportunity to read Courage In Patience. We're looking very much forward to learning more about it.
Where did you get the idea for such an incredibly compelling story?
The issues in the book are, unfortunately, much more common than people want to believe. I gave voice to characters who were all having to face very scary issues. I allowed the story to tell itself.
Are any parts of the book autobiographical? If so, which ones (or can you say)?
I think it's a lot of people's story. More than anything else, Courage in Patience is about freedom through truth.
Why does David have such a hard time controlling his temper?
David's temper comes from a feeling of helplessness. Rather than acknowledging the helpless feeling, David gets angry. He learned tools for dealing with his rage, but, as you can imagine, the spectre of his daughter having been victimized so brutally plugs right into his feelings of helplessness-- particularly since he feels so guilty for not being a part of her life as she was growing up.
Why does Cheryl refuse to leave Charlie - much less admit that he actually did all the despicable things that Ashley says he did?
That's a very good question. I think that women who behave as Cheryl does are, at their core, selfish people, so invested in living a lie that they will do anything to maintain that lie. As Ashley learns, it would take unimaginable guts for her mother to face the truth. Her mom's not made of the same stuff as Ashley is.
Throughout all that she has to endure, Ashley displays incredible strength and resiliency. Is that common for someone her age?
I think so. I think that people are, at their core, much stronger than they allow themselves to acknowledge. That said, honesty (authenticity) is sometimes excruciating. As Dr. Matt says, "Life's messy."
How were you able to craft such original, full-dimensional characters as Bev, ZZ, Dr. Matt, and even Billy Ray?
I have a very well-developed imagination.
Our reviewer absolutely gushed over how much she enjoyed the book - so much so that she raved about it to our entire staff! Why has it not been picked up by a publisher yet?
It's on submission to several houses-- it has been since early summer. I feel confident that it will be published; it's just a waiting game at this point.
Have you shared the book with anyone else? If so, what have their reactions been?
Yes, I have shared it with some other writers, who have written glowing reviews for it. Other than that, I have one very good friend who has read it, in addition to my agent. We all believe that Courage in Patience will find a "home."
Aside from continuing to pursue publication, what's next for you?
I've started the sequel to Courage in Patience-- it's called Hope in Patience. I felt that Ashley's story needed to be continued, and I also wanted to address the fall-out from the censorship brouhaha caused by Bev teaching Chris Crutcher's Ironman.
Any final thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?
Through my writing, I hope to communicate to teenagers (and others) that, even when it feels like they are most alone, they are not. Never, never, never give up. There is hope.
Thanks again, Beth, and best of continued success to you in all your endeavors!