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Courage in Patience: A Story of Hope for Those Who Have Endured Abuse Paperback – September 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fehlbaum's debut novel, set in a small Texas town, is overloaded with thorny issues and hindered by a very special episode tone, but features a genuine and empathetic lead. After enduring six years of sexual abuse from her step-father, 14-year-old Ashley Asher finally gathers the courage to confide in her mother; predictably, mom sides with step-dad. Soon, Ashley is sent to live with her estranged birth father, David, and his new wife and son. Though he's now a kind man who's put his life-long anger issues behind him, Ashley still struggles to trust her father. His wife, Bev, a high school English teacher, brings Ashley into her extended family of summer school students; a controversial reading assignment, Ironman by Chris Crutcher, provides the novel's other hot-button issues—racism, censorship, homophobia and religious extremism. An over-the-top scandal is followed by Bev's hokey, message-laden testimonial before the local school board. Throughout, Ashley's self-destructive tendencies, conflicted feelings and struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder read authentically; had Fehlbaum focused more on her recovery, rather than a raft of societal woes, this story would have been more powerful. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

Nine-year-old Ashley Asher was pleased when her mother started a relationship with Charlie Baker. Charlie, Ashley thought, would be the father she never had. She was 9 then; now 15, she recounts the story of how her dream life soon turned to nightmare, commencing with the first time Charlie touched her inappropriately. For years she tolerated it—not only the sexual abuse but also the emotional manipulation her stepfather inflicted on her—until one day she confronted both Charlie and her mother. To Ashley’s horror, her mother sided with Charlie, leaving the teenager to find her own way, prompting her to reestablish a connection with her biological father. Though the subject matter is undeniably dark, Fehlbaum manages to keep the tone surprisingly light and hopeful. This hard-hitting but readable story about an infinitely troubling subject will resonate with all readers but especially with other survivors of abuse or with those who work with those survivors. --Mary Frances Wilkens

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kunati Inc.; 1st edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601641567
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601641564
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,659,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Check out my website, http://bethfehlbaumbooks.com, for chapter previews, my bio, all the latest news on THE PATIENCE TRILOGY, teacher/librarian resources, and my media room!

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Richards HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
Rather than the famous West Texas town of El Paso (although that town is briefly referred to in the story), this emotionally draining debut novel is set in the tiny East Texas town of Patience.

Ashley, the young protagonist tells the heartbreaking tale of the six years of abuse she endures at the hands of her step-father, and the betrayal she experiences when her own mother and maternal grandparents refuse to believe her story, even when faced with irrefutable evidence.

Her mother and her biological father had parted on bad terms, having eloped as teenagers when her mother was pregnant with Ashley, and except for the occasional card and the child support payments, he is a complete stranger. Having heard of his uncontrollable bad temper, Ashley is more than a little afraid when he swoops in and whisks her back to his home in Patience to live with his new family, against the wishes of her mother.

As if this weren't enough, the small town soon becomes embroiled in a moral brouhaha when Ashley's step-mother Bev chooses a controversial novel for summer school reading, revealing the bigotry of some elements of the supposedly religious and tightly knit community.

With love and a lot of support from her father and step-mother, Ashley slowly begins to work her way out of her self-constructed armor, but fails to make meaningful progress until she gains the self-confidence to face her nightmares head on.

Based in part on the author's real-life experiences, this book tackles abuse, racism, intolerance and cruelty, tempered by love, compassion and friendship, and is recommended for ages 14 and up. Genuine characters, believable dialogue and a heartbreaking story make for an absorbing and compelling read.

Rated: 4.5 stars

Amanda Richards, September 13, 2008
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is so emotionally and psychologically heavy that it is surprising that it is so physically light. Fehlbaum has managed to pack so many negative aspects of life into this book that it could have been extremely depressing to read. However, while there are passages that brought tears to my eyes, it is uplifting.
Ashley Asher is the main character and she is in her early teens and has been sexually molested by her stepfather for years. Her mother is aware of it but demonstrates some truly world-class denial. Ashley has withdrawn, often sleeping in her closet with as many obstacles as she can find between the door and her place of safety.
When her stepfather reaches the point where he rapes her, with the help of a kindly teacher, Ashley seeks help. Fortunately, she is reunited with her biological father, a man she has not seen since she was an infant. Even more fortunate, he has quit drinking, gotten married and has a stable life. Ashley goes to live with him and his family in Patience, Texas and she begins the road to recovery.
In addition to her problems, Ashley finds that Patience is a town with problems from one dusty street to another. Ashley encounters racial hatred and bigotry, religious parents who find it difficult to utter three consecutive sentences without a religious reference and a football coach whose religion is spelled "football." She also meets children her age and very strong adults who stand up and do battle for what is right.
Therefore, this is a book about severe and broad-based adversity, having the courage to fight back and an ultimate triumph against forces that have been in place for some time. The courage shown by the teenagers in this book is the stuff that great people are made of. The story is the stuff that great writers make.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A. Moore on August 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Hoffman, author:Radiation Days: A Comedy VINE VOICE on August 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
You probably know that this is a story about surviving sexual abuse and living one's way through the alienation and loss that goes along with it. You should also know that this is one of those books about group of teens and that the healing that takes place is partly mediated by the dynamics of the group. This dimension gives the story some extra power that all kids need to have: we get well with the help of those around us.
Nicely written and with a compforing message for anyone who needs to get over it and get on with it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kristi D. VINE VOICE on August 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Ashley Asher has been sexually abused by her stepfather since she was nine years old. When Ashley finally finds the courage to expose her abuser, her mother turns her back on Ashley and insists that Ashley is lying. The only person that takes Ashley's claims seriously is her high school English teacher, who in turns gets Ashley the help she needs.

Ashley moves to Patience, Texas to live with her biological father, his wife and his adopted son. It isn't surprising however that Ashley has a hard time trusting her new family. Bev, her step mother is an English teacher at the local high school and when she finds herself unexpectedly teaching summer school Ashley asks if she can take the class as well.

Ashley's eyes are opening in the class when she discovers the problems of various students within the class, ultimately helping Ashley in the road to recovery.

Courage in Patience is the debut novel for Beth Fehlbaum. Not since the poetic storytelling of author Catherine Ryan Hyde has a book moved me so emotionally. At first glance you would assume as I did that this was a novel about sexual abuse, but let me assure you that there is so much more to this story. While sexual abuse is the main theme in the novel the story also touches on the topics of racism, acceptance, fear and most importantly hope. The novel conveys a powerful message, and I'm so very thankful that I had the chance to read it.
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