This “autobiographical novel” centers on a young girl who endures the sexual abuse of her godfather and pays the emotional price long after.
The story opens in 1986 as Lilly, now in her 30s and mother of a toddler, pays her first visit to a therapist. Being a mother has heightened her lifelong fears and awakened negative responses to shows of affection.
The narrative then jumps back to 1952. Lilly is around 4 when her godfather, Frank, husband of Lilly’s mother’s sister Millie, begins the abuse. He ensures Lilly’s silence by threatening harm to her family. In an early scene, he cements those threats after finding Lilly hiding from him in the basement behind the furnace where her father has forbidden her to go. He grabs her, silencing her with a handkerchief over her mouth, then takes her doll and carries both to the furnace. “He … opened its large steel mouth, exposing the raging fire. He tossed the doll into its center… Lilly stared in horror as her doll’s face twisted and melted.”
The abuse, abetted by Millie, continues as Lilly ages, and she eventually turns to alcohol and drugs to mask the pain. Her behavior causes problems with her parents, and Lilly soon becomes estranged from them. It’s only after decades of abuse that include being drugged by Frank, that another family member reaches out and Lilly begins her difficult journey of taking back control of her life.
This is a detailed, unflinching story of abuse and the damage that follows, but also of the mind’s amazing ability to endure and heal. It is painstakingly plotted; the author skillfully moves back and forth in time — while keeping readers grounded in the moment. She also ably conveys Lilly’s emotions, moods and fear. While dark and at times painful, the story is also balanced with hope and perseverance.
In sum, Quiet. Fear. is a compelling tale that’s likely to engage and touch a wide audience.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.