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Courage in Patience, a novel
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse..
IT MAY SEEM LIKE IT NOW, BUT YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Ashley Nicole Asher's life changes forever on the night her mother, Cheryl, meets Charlie Baker. Within a year of her mother's marriage to Charlie, typical nine-year-old Ashley's life becomes a nightmare of sexual abuse and emotional neglect. Bundling her body in blankets and sleeping in her closet to try to avoid Charlie's nighttime assaults, she is driven by rage at age 15 to to tell her mother, in spite of the threats Charlie has used to keep Ashley silent. Believing that telling will make Charlie go away, instead it reveals to Ashley where she lies on her mother's list of priorities.
"We're just going to move on now," Cheryl tells Ashley. "Go to your room." Ashley's psyche splinters into shards of glass, and she desperately tries to figure a way out, while at the same time battling numbness and an inability to remember what happened when she blacked out after Charlie tackled her. She knew that when she awoke her clothes were disheveled and the lower-half of her body was covered in bright red blood-- but she has only a blank spot in the "video" of her memory.
When Ashley's friend, Lisa, sees a note from Cheryl telling Ashley that Charlie would never "do those things to her," and insisting that she apologize for accusing him of molesting her, Lisa forces dazed Ashley to make an outcry to her teacher, Mrs. Chapman.
By the end of the day, Ashley's father, David, who has not seen Ashley since she was three months old, is standing in the offices of Child and Family Services. He brings her home to the small East Texas town of Patience, where he lives with his wife, Beverly, their son, Ben, and works with his brother, Frank.
Through the summer school English class/ Quest for Truth taught by Beverly, an "outside-the-box" high school English teacher whose passion for teaching comes second only to her insistence upon authenticity, Ashley comes to know Roxanne Blake, a girl scarred outwardly by a horrific auto crash and inwardly by the belief that she is "Dr. Frankenstein's little experiment";
Wilbur "Dub" White, a fast-talking smart mouth whose stepfather is a white supremacist who nearly kills a man while Dub watches from the shadows, forcing Dub to realize that he cannot live with the person that he is, any longer;
Zaquoiah "Z.Z." Freeman, one of the few African-Americans in Patience, whose targeted-for-extinction family inherited the estate of one of Patience's founding families and has been given the charge to "turn this godforsaken town on its head";
Hector "Junior" Alvarez, a father at sixteen whose own father was killed in prison, who works two jobs and is fueled by the determination to "do it right" for his son, "3", and his girlfriend, Moreyma;
T.W. Griffin, whose football-coach father expects him to be Number One at everything, and whose mother naively believes that he is too young to think about sex; and
Kevin Cooper, a not-so-bright football player with a heart of gold, whose mother, Trini, a reporter for the local paper, is instrumental in exposing the ugliness that is censorship.
Every person in the class is confronted with a challenge that they must face head-on. The choices they make will not be easy—but they will be life-altering. With the exception of her mother and step-father, Ashley is surrounded by people who overcome their fear to embrace authenticity and truth-- the only way to freedom. But will Ashley have the inner-fortitude to survive the journey to recovery and the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Will Ashley find her voice, speak up for herself, and break the bondage of her abusive past?
Realizing "she's gonna need a lot more than we have," David and Bev enlist the help of Scott "Dr. Matt" Matthews, an experienced, slightly unconventional therapist who insists that Ashley can and must come out of hiding in the closet in her mind. The Chris Crutcher novel, Ironman, is taught by Beverly Asher in the summer school class. When T.W.'s overbearing parents read the book, they decide that the book should be censored, and they involve the pastor of Patience's largest, most conservative church to lead the fight through the Purify Patience organization. Its mission is to cleanse Patience of Profanity, Promiscuity, and Parent-Bashing Pedagogy—all complaints the group has about the novel, Ironman. Its hidden agenda, however, is to return Patience to a time when "Patience was 100% white", "women knew their place","everyone had plenty of money", and "Christian values were taught in school."
The censoring, pseudo-Christian, white-supremacist, misogynist organization is exposed for what it is in a courageous move by one of its own (well..his mother threatens to twist his ear off if he doesn't speak up), isolating the pastor and causing most of his "flock" to deny they ever knew him. National and world press attention shine speculation on the dirty little secrets hidden in Patience, and its inhabitants are forced to examine their own values and beliefs.
Alone in the dark, Ashley must face her worst fears in a pivotal scene between her, Charlie, and her mother. Will she find the strength to advocate for her own right to exist in a world that is free of fear and abuse? Can she, like her friends, find Courage in Patience?
Apex Reviews: 5 Stars!
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!
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Reader Reviews for "Courage in Patience"
|Reviewed by C Wolf Forrest
|Courage in Patience (Texas) is a compelling and stark story by Author Beth Fehlbaum of the horrific effects of child abuse, religious dogma / idiocy not only on its main character Ashley Archer, but also on the population of those small backwater hamlets of Texas. But they could be anywhere. The tribulations of this innocent child growing into a young woman makes one cringe with its inflicted descriptive brutalities. In reading this book, one cannot help but experience a visceral reaction, which seems to call for violence to oppose not only the sick-minded pedophile-'fathers,' but also the sick-minded 'mothers' who tolerate such behavior in the name of their own 'security.'
But it is also a story of hope for young adults, should they seek and find the many decent people who abhor abuse and vicious criminal actions of any kind. It is made quite clear in this book that one of the main obstacles to finding such help for abuse victims resides in the fact that the victims have been so traumatized that they no longer believe such decency exists within their communities. Thus, it is even more devastating when mothers, the so-called protectors of the young, ignore the facts and choose to believe the evil among them simply does not exist, or make some self-serving excuses.
Courage in Patience, however, finds a way out and reaffirms basic decency for Ashley Archer to find. And find it she does, notwithstanding the very obstacles she faces for her life to come. In the process, bigotry and brutality are confronted and finally, the villain gets his just deserts. (Just in time, before I hired a tank, found Patience, TX on the map, and blew that turkey away (the pedophile, not the town) - sorry, I get riled up with injustice).
In the final analysis, it is a book of hope for young adults who may, perhaps, have encountered such overwhelming evil. Highly recommended.