Courage in Patience by Beth Fehlbaum

From the publisher: After six years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse from her stepfather, 14-year-old Ashley finally finds the courage to reveal the painful details of her experiences with her mother, who refuses to acknowledge the problem and turns her back on her daughter. After confiding in her teacher—the only adult whom Ashley can trust—she is removed from her home and sent to live with her father and his second wife, Beverly, an English teacher. Nurtured by Beverly, an extraordinarily positive influence in her life, Ashley and a summer school class of troubled teens learn to face their fears and discover who they really are.

Courage in Patience: A Story of Hope for Those Who Have Endured Abuse is a powerful, gut-wrenching, heart-wrenching story of sexual abuse and survival. Ashley has been abused by her stepfather for years, ignored by her mother for even longer, and slowly destroying herself in a bid to escape. When she finally turns to a trusted teacher, CPS is called in and Ashely is pulled from her nightmare of a home. When CPS contacts her birth father she moves to Patience, Texas to live with him and his family.

The beginning of the book is graphic. Fehlbaum details the abuse that Ashley faces on a daily basis. However, the second half of the book is about Ashley’s road to survival and thriving in Patience. She begins to live a normal life- making friends, getting to know her new family, and dealing with small-town politics. However, she still struggles with the ramifications of her abuse on a daily basis. She begins seeing a therapist, along with her father, mother, and younger brother.

I really appreciated how Fehlbaum showed a true-to-life picture of sexual abuse by following Ashley through her abuse and her road to survival. While some might feel the book focuses on too many stories, I disagree. Ashley’s teenage voice rang true and her story felt like I was reading a memoir. Her story is tragic and horrific, and her road to recovery is bumpy and imperfect. To me, that seemed more realistic than many other books. It also gave the reader a picture of that road to recovery, whereas many other sexual abuse-themed books focus only on the abuse itself.

This is a graphic book, one that I would recommend only for teens and adults. However, it is very powerful and I believe it is an important book.