Book Review for GIRL by Robert N. Chan

Title: girl
Author: Robert N. Chan
Publisher: Second Wind Publishing, LLC
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 978-1630660956
girl

girl
by Robert N. Chan

Book review by Sheila Deeth

We name those things and people we value, and so Girl unnames herself, casting off her old identity after a brutal rape. But now she has to cast off all the identities others give her too. Replacing the rules of the Torah with laws of her own, honoring no-one, and writing her own dark script, she passes through almost mythical tests and trials to reinvent herself as an upscale whore. Meanwhile she reads and fills the hole in herself with wisdom and wit. Meanwhile, someone else has other plans to fill Girl’s life, and she becomes Woman.Girl is the sort of unsettling novel that makes the reader switch seamlessly from belief to disbelief and back again. It’s beautifully, powerfully written, filled with a series of dangerous characters, deeply drawn so evil can show its human side and crime can reveal its hidden cause. World-spanning cruelties and wildly different paths to self-destruction come into focus around real people who hurt, care, and try their best to survive. But sometimes survival’s not the most important thing after all.Girl will make you question pre-conceptions. The prose will draw you close to Girl, then cast you aside as she detaches again from her past and reinvents her life. It will make you long for salvation, as humor and pathos give way to cruel irony. And it will linger in your mind long after that final page is turned, the final myth inverted on itself. It’s a cool, dark, unflinching, scary book, with hints of Barbara Taylor Bradford’s Woman of Substance in its multi-year scope and depiction of determination, reinvention, and realism. It’s also an excellent modern-day satire and an enormously relevant read.

Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy and I offer my honest review.

____________
232Sheila Deeth is the author of Divide by Zero and other “mathemafiction” contemporary novels. She’s a Catholic Protestant English American mathematician writer, who moved to the Pacific Northwest a few years after immigrating to the US from England with her family. Before writing (and editing) novels, Sheila studied mathematics at Cambridge University, wrote (and broke) computer programs for a living, and brought up three (grown) sons. Now she enjoys reading, writing, watching movies, and walking with her husband around the neighborhood, where many wonderful cats and dogs have been known to roam.
Advertisements

Excerpt From “Divide by Zero” by Sheila Deeth

It takes a subdivision to raise a child, and a wealth of threads to weave a tapestry, until one breaks.

Troy, the garage mechanic’s son, loves Lydia, the rich man’s daughter. Amethyst has a remarkable cat and Andrea a curious accent. Old Abigail knows more than anyone else but doesn’t speak. And in Paradise Park a middle aged man keeps watch while autistic Amelia keeps getting lost.

Pastor Bill, at the church of Paradise, tries to mend people. Peter mends cars. But when that fraying thread gives way it might take a child to raise the subdivision…or to mend it.

EXCERPT:

Storm clouds gathered outside, a suitable end to the day Mary thought. At work, Pattie had pestered her with talk of the old people’s home; she’d moved her father over the weekend; now she wanted to sort out Mary’s life. “It’s the perfect place,” Pattie said. “Gorgeous views on the drive down. You’d love it.” But Mary had too many memories of old folks ranged against walls like balls of yarn, TVs with silent pictures in the corner and radios squawking overhead. She’d promised her mother many years ago, she’d never put her in a home, and Mary wasn’t the sort to break a promise.

“Clear day promises,” her mother used to say. “Don’t you go breaking them when storm clouds gather.” So yes, Mary thought. It was singularly appropriate for clouds to be gathering tonight.

She stood cooking dinner in the kitchen, the small room cozy with the smell of meat in the oven and potatoes on the stove, windows steamed, fan whirring pointlessly. Three plates lay stacked on the table behind her with a tray waiting to hold her mother’s meal.

“Mary!” barked a sharp ragged voice.

Mary sighed. “Coming, Mother.” She left the oven mitts in a heap by the pan.

Warm bed, clean clothes, hot meals, and a servant ready to wait on every whim was all Mary’s mother wanted. Five more minutes to brown the pie and dinner would be ready, but Mother had picked up her bell and was ringing, singing raggedly in time with the chimes, “Mary!”

Oh, how Mary hated that bell; its tinkle, delicate as a small child’s toy; its authority louder than church bells on Easter morning. “Yes Mother, I’m coming.” The bell still rang.

Mary crossed the hallway with steady, angry tread to keep from hurrying. A key rattled and scratched in the lock as she passed. The front door swung wide and her newly grown-up son stood facing her in the worn out sneakers, holey sweatshirt and hip-sliding jeans of a newly qualified garage mechanic. “Troy! Perfect timing for dinner. Just let me go to Grandma.”

Troy made a grab for her arm. “We got to talk Mom.”

“Later.”

“No. Now.”

***

Sheila Deeth grew up in the UK and has a Bachelors and Masters in mathematics from Cambridge University, England. Now living in the States near Portland Oregon, she enjoys reading, writing, drawing, telling stories and meeting her neighbors’ dogs on the green.

Where to find the author: http://about.me/SheilaDeeth
Where to find her books: http://www.sheiladeethbooks.com
Connect on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/sheila.deeth, http://www.facebook.com/SheilaDeethAuthor

Divide by Zero, by Sheila Deeth, available in paperback from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.

Kindle link (includes cover–a beautiful cover by Peter Joseph Swanson) http://www.amazon.com/Divide-by-Zero-ebook/dp/B0090NFH56/

Flower Child by Sheila Deeth — Excerpt 2

Blurb for Flower Child: The story of a grieving mother and her unborn child.

When Megan miscarries her first pregnancy it feels like the end of everything; instead it’s the start of a curious between the grieving mother and an unborn child who hovers somewhere between ghost and angel. Angela, Megan’s “little angel,” has character and dreams all her own, friends who may or may not be real angels, and a little brother who brings hope to her mother’s world. But Angela’s dream-world has a secret and one day Angela might learn how to be real.

Excerpt from Flower Child:

This excerpt from Flower Child takes place as Megan, delightedly pregnant for the first time, realizes something might be going wrong.

I carried her inside me. I watched her grow. I imagined a future, school, college, marriage; had it all planned out. I hoped one day to be mother of the bride. Do you think that’s crazy? I’d been pregnant only three-four months or so; only just begun to believe I could feel the babe move. And then I woke in the dark of night to a pain that shouldn’t be there. It’s too soon, I shouted to myself. I told myself turn over and sleep and hoped the growing ache would go away; convinced myself it was just a new mom’s panic making me neurotic. It was bound to be okay.

As the pain grew worse I told myself it’s your own stupid fault, imagining a future for a child not yet born. It’s your punishment for wishing her life away. I believed it was true.

The night was dark. The sound of traffic was muffled through layers of curtains and bushes and air. The whisper of insects was almost still—that empty, midnight place. And the fluttering in my belly felt like razor blades. A sticky dampness pooled between my legs; my baby’s life-blood draining away.

In the end I couldn’t keep quiet anymore. I rolled and screamed in agony at the motion; reached out for David where he lay beside me, totally, irrevocably asleep. I remember his shoulder was bare—summer’s heat—slick and soft against my hand; the shoulder I clung to when we made love; the shoulder that leaned against my cheek while we made a baby.

I hear my voice saying his name still in dreams, heard its strangled awkwardness. “David. I think it’s the baby. I think something’s wrong.” But David slept on. I prodded and poked him then ‘til at last I’d forced him from his dreams. He grunted, sat up, something I wasn’t quite sure I could do, and switched on the light over my head. I remember its blinding, clinical whiteness, as if he’d magicked me from our comfortable bed to a hospital ward. Closing my eyes, I saw red.

“What’s wrong, Megan?” David’s voice whispers still in my memory. His breath blew the hairs like fragile tendrils of loving over my ear but I felt no desire. My eyes leaked wetly on the pillow and I couldn’t raise my head. “Megan. What?”

***

About the author: Sheila Deeth grew up in the UK and has a Bachelors and Masters in mathematics from Cambridge University, England. Now living in the States with her husband and son, she enjoys reading,writing, drawing, telling stories, running a local writers’ group, and meeting her neighbors’ dogs on the green.

Sheila describes herself as a Mongrel Christian Mathematician. Her short stories, book reviews and articles can be found in VoiceCatcher 4, Murder on the Wind, Poetic Monthly, Nights and Weekends, the Shine Journal and Joyful Online. Besides her Gypsy Shadow ebooks, Sheila has several self-published works available from Amazon and Lulu, and a full-length novel under contract to come out next year.

Find her on her website: http://www.sheiladeeth.com
or find her books at: http://sheiladeeth.weebly.com

Click here to read an interview with: Sheila Deeth

Flower Child by Sheila Deeth — Excerpt 1

Blurb for Flower Child: The story of a grieving mother and her unborn child; When Megan miscarries her first pregnancy it feels like the end of everything; instead it’s the start of a curious between the grieving mother and an unborn child who hovers somewhere between ghost and angel. Angela, Megan’s “little angel,” has character and dreams all her own, friends who may or may not be real angels, and a little brother who brings hope to her mother’s world. But Angela’s dream-world has a secret and one day Angela might learn how to be real.

Excerpt from Flower Child:

My mother swore she’d never lie to me. The day I asked where babies come from she told me, beautifully I’m sure, how they grow and mature from a seed planted by Daddy in Mommy’s tummy. Unfortunately I heard the word “seed” and imagination took over. I furnished a field, somewhere between the Pearly Gates and a farmer’s fences on solid earth. Angels stood guard, checking marriage certificates—since I knew some babies were born out of wedlock, I imagined devils too, with a thriving business selling fakes. Meanwhile one special angel, the baby’s future guardian of course, would officiate while the precious seed was gently laid to rest. God would water. Earth and angels would nourish. And in time the happy couple would return, cutting the cord that held the child to the ground and raising her up—a sister for me!

I never had a sister, of course, but I was sure she existed. I used to imagine her running between the plants, green tendrils of flowers in her hair, forever tethered to that field, unborn, unable to be born. I used to think my parents didn’t care, and if only they’d just go visit one day perhaps they’d find her there.

Not that I spent my whole life mourning those siblings I never had; that’s not what I mean. I just liked to complain. But I was a happy enough kid most of the time; grew up in a happy home; had a Dad who didn’t die ‘til I was sixteen, so I wasn’t exactly orphaned or anything; and Mom’s still around. I played with friends; scrambled through forests and flowers, free as a bird, like kids can’t do now; I read books; I went to school and I grew up.

My husband David was a fellow math student I met at college lectures. I went out with him for a while and we got married after graduation—all the usual things; Uncle Malcolm escorted me down the aisle to the sound of Here Comes the Bride; and we both got jobs.

Happily married, contentedly productive in my chosen occupation—writing computer programs—but sadly unproductive in that manner husbands and wives, and potential grandparents, tend to hope for, I trundled along, one day much like another, and lived for my dreams. One day I found myself pregnant and glowing, only to be totally devastated short weeks later when the unborn baby died. I slept and screamed and wept for her, my little girl, and drove my husband to distraction. Then, in a moment’s incautious clarity, I was cured. What happened was I found those childhood dreams weren’t really so far from the truth, and I don’t care if you don’t believe me. Mom thinks I’m mad, Uncle Malcolm tries to humor me, and David just pretends not to hear a word I say. But there are more things in heaven and hell than human eyes and ears can tell, and I first stopped crying the day I met my angel, Angela.

Angela

My earliest memories are a mixture of red and green—red for sleeping; green for awake. Nighttime was when I heard dream voices call and oceans roar. Words weren’t something I understood, too early then I guess, but love was sweet. Sometimes she sang to me in her summer’s light while that darker voice, warm as the liquid I bathed in, whispered its bass.

The roar, I guessed after a while, was just the sound of fluid surrounding me. It tasted salty sweet and filled my eyes and mouth and ears. My body would move sometimes, pushing wetly against those cushioned walls that held firm, yet yielded, all around. Then, once in a while, something would lean into me, rocking me with that voice of love. “Feel that? She kicked.” The words carried delight in their singsong tone; I’d wriggle again and push against the pressure, kicking I guessed, whatever that meant, feeling the weight of affection pressed against elbow, ankle or knee.

In the green of waking up I imagined my dreamtime voices belonged to heroes, mystical guardians of my fate. I longed to see them, connecting their sound with the shadows that sometimes swam through the glow of my growing. I learned to reach out when they were close, waiting for that touch, that sound of joy, wondering if there were a way to forever hold such pleasures and more. But then the green would surround me again, its milk scented with hay. Leaves formed a sweet cocoon to shield my eyes from sun’s red rays. Angels, white as light, trod paths and cleared the scrub away, keeping insects that buzzed and hummed safely distant from newly formed souls. Warmth and dampness poured over me, pumped through my veins while tiny limbs budded fingers, legs and arms, and bending head. In the real world I thought I’d grow up to be an angel; in the dream-world I’d rather be man, or woman, or hero.

The leaves cocooned me in eternal green while dream-walls filtered red. But the angels were bright enough to shine with their own light, human shapes that wandered between us like shadows in reverse. They were my keepers of the gates…

It started, the end or the beginning—I’m not sure which—while I was asleep, red warmth and people-sounds. The ocean’s roar grew violent and angry around me, changed its shape to waterfall. My body jerked in slumber as fluids flushed. My river gone dry, I struggled against my cage and started to fight.

The lights of my red world grew scary then, viciously bright. Something whiter than angels made brittle images on the air. Voices were sharp and fearful, mother singing but the tune all cracked like there was a hole in her heart, beating ragged and sharp. “My baby has gone down the plughole…” she laughed, her body, me, quaking and bent. I didn’t know what a baby or plughole meant, so I simply stored the sounds in memory.

When Mother fell silent, her heartbeat slowing, her thrashing flesh finding rest, then my own struggles dimmed and I fell asleep. Everything up to then felt like a dream, but somehow sleeping didn’t feel like falling awake. My body was sliding, squeezing, fighting its pain, but I had no control and no desire to control it. Flickers of green trickled over me, as though I were trying to rise, but the nightmare held tight.

The world went black at the last and there was silence for a while. Somewhere in the distance the mother-voice cried while Father soothed with words like heavy sap in the burgeoning dawn, but I wasn’t really there. Just a memory of listening, of feeling, seeing nothing, making no sound.

Later I tumbled to the ground and felt the soft sweet earth, dark crumbles flaking under my hands. I tucked my fingers into the cool and damp. Stickiness felt like comfort in my palm. Sunshine was warm, filled with life and new growth, and it pleased me. I hadn’t liked this fighting dream, so instead I was glad to wake up in a field and know I belonged to trees, even if leaves weren’t holding me.

I remember an angel bending over me. His face—her face; it doesn’t really matter with angels—was filled with concern. His eyes were pale like fragmented clouds and hair swirled white against sky. Warm breath blew over me, tickling my nostrils and tempting with the sweetness of flowers. Then a sun-white hand reached down and cupped my head, lifting me up so the world could take shape around me. Earth, stems, leaves and sky. Dark ground and petals too, pale roses in the gloom.

He settled me on a cushion of green and coiled the twisting cord around my feet, then sang to me. I think birds gathered to his call, but perhaps imagination’s embellishing the tale. I think the insects hummed a steady bass beat to his tune. But the only thing I know for sure is I fell asleep, a deep and dreamless, seamless, meaningless sleep. No red night-light, no voices and no pain; I was safe and secure, wrapped in my nest of leaves ‘til it was time to wake again.

***

About the author: Sheila Deeth grew up in the UK and has a Bachelors and Masters in mathematics from Cambridge University, England. Now living in the States with her husband and son, she enjoys reading,writing, drawing, telling stories, running a local writers’ group, and meeting her neighbors’ dogs on the green.

Sheila describes herself as a Mongrel Christian Mathematician. Her short stories, book reviews and articles can be found in VoiceCatcher 4, Murder on the Wind, Poetic Monthly, Nights and Weekends, the Shine Journal and Joyful Online. Besides her Gypsy Shadow ebooks, Sheila has several self-published works available from Amazon and Lulu, and a full-length novel under contract to come out next year.

Find her on her website: http://www.sheiladeeth.com
or find her books at: http://sheiladeeth.weebly.com