BREAKABLE VOW

Kathryn Clarke, Author
Kathryn Clarke, Author . HarperCollins/Avon $6.99 (480p) ISBN 978-0-06-051821-9
Library Binding - 480 pages - 978-0-06-051822-6
Prebound-Other - 978-0-613-84610-3
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-32549-3
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In newcomer Clarke's instructional problem novel about an abusive relationship, Annie gets pregnant by her possessive high school sweetheart, gives birth to their daughter, then marries him. She moves with Kevin from Chicago to Texas, where he receives full ride on a football scholarship; there, his violence towards Annie escalates until a vicious attack convinces her to seek help. But even with a counselor—and a restraining order—Kevin continues to terrorize her until she gets help from outside the law. Clarke, a domestic violence expert, does an excellent job laying out the issues that a young person might face in an abusive relationship and when trying to get out (the author describes the abuse graphically, and in one troubling scene, a police officer called to her house tells her that if she signs a complaint, Kevin "would have a permanent arrest record and all because his wife was flirting at a party"). An appendix covers topics such as the characteristics of an abuser and how to create a safety plan. Unfortunately, much of the narrative emphasizes telling over showing ("It had been so long since there was someone who seemed to really care about her"), and characters with names like Maureen and Marty give the book a dated feel. All in all, the novel comes across as a pointed cautionary tale, and readers may be disappointed that Annie must depend on an outsider—not herself or the system—to ultimately solve her problems. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)

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