Monday, January 20, 2014

Review & Release Day Blast: Scattered Links by M. Weidenbenner

Release Day Tour

Scattered Links is a novel that pulls its characters from the gutters and, in the end, celebrates the tenacity of the human spirit.

Thirteen-year-old Oksana lives on the streets of Russia with her pregnant mama and abusive aunt—both prostitutes. When Mama swells into labor, Oksana makes a decision to save herself from abandonment, a decision that torments her forever. When her plan fails and her aunt dumps her in an orphanage, she never has the chance to say goodbye to her mama or tell her the secret that haunts her.

Scattered Links is a story of family and the consequences that come from never learning how to love, of a girl’s inability to bond with her adopted family and the frustrations that follow.

How can a child understand the mechanics of forming a healthy relationship when she never had a mother who answered her cries, held her when she was frightened, fed her when she was hungry, or loved her unconditionally?

Only when the child meets a rescued abused horse, and recognizes the pain in his eyes, does she begin to trust again.
Scattered Links, (initially titled Love is Just a Word), was the winner of the 2013 Aspiring Writers Competition, sponsored by Write on Con and The Reading Room. Scattered Links was intended to show a glimpse into the life of a child with RAD, reactive attachment disorder, so prevalent in children who never had unconditional love in infancy.

This novel was inspired by Michelle’s journey to Russia to adopt her orphan daughter. Upon seeing the neglect of orphanage children and learning of the effects of RAD in post-institutionalized children, Michelle researched this disorder, committed to giving her daughter the best chance at a healthy life. Sadly, many parents can’t cope with the behavior from kids with RAD and re-home their children like pets.

***My Review***

I appreciate what the author tried to do here. She opened my eyes to poverty in Russia, to what it's like to be transplanted from one country to another, to how very much we in America take for granted. Our dogs get more food than the children in Russian orphanages.

This was a sad story following a girl facing struggle after struggle after struggle, from a mother lost in drink, to an aunt who sells her body and wants to get rid of her nieces too, to the orphanage where kids and caregivers are cruel alike, to a the suddenness of a new home, new country, new family, new language. And nobody understands her, partly because she can't communicate with them. She's had a very different upbringing and never had to report to others. She doesn't understand love or physical touch or communication. She has learned not to trust, ever.

It's a very eye opening read and I didn't realize until after, when I read the above blurb again, that the girl has a very real disorder. RAD. She's attached to a mother who abandoned her and I think it was partly because there was unfinished business btw them.

Again, I appreciate this story and all it opened my eyes to, but I must confess, I couldn't stand the heroine. I felt she was ungrateful, bratty, mean. These people have jumped into parenthood--of a teenager--with no previous experience, provided her a home, food, school, etc, and she just acts out. I completely understood her reasons, yet I had trouble feeling much sympathy as it became one stupid, selfish act after another. I get she's uneducated, but common sense is not taught. The girl acts without thinking over and over. Frankly, I'd have sent her back to Russia after the animal shelter incident. I'm sorry, but I'm being truthful. Not all of us are cut out for children, let alone kids like this one. The American parents in this book deserve medals.

Between the animal shelter, the horse riding, the disappearing acts, I just felt she was too unlikable. I could forgive maybe one incident, but not one thing after another. I just could not come to like her. My dislike of her began to overshadow my sympathy and I very nearly abandoned the book a few times. I so badly wanted to shake her and say, "I'm sorry you went through what you did (I am) but it's time to move on and look around you and be grateful for what you DO have. Your past does not give you license to be horrid now."

The writing is excellent though the sentences are short and choppy, but it's a first-person narrative and the choppiness matches the narrator's personality. So while I found it bothersome at first, it makes sense. The author did a superb job of catching all the different emotions from different people involved in this situation. It was an educational read.

I received this from Promotional Book Tours.

About the author:
Michelle grew up in the burbs of Detroit with five brothers. No sisters. Each time her mom brought the boy bundle home from the hospital Michelle cried, certain her mom liked boys better than girls. But when her brothers pitched in with the cooking, cleaning, and babysitting—without drama, Michelle discovered having brothers wasn’t so bad. They even taught her how to take direct criticism without flinching, which might come in handy with book reviews.

Michelle blogs at Random Writing Rants where she teaches and encourages writers how to get published.

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