All Because Of You: Fifteen tales of refuge and hope, by Isobel Blackthorn, author of The Canary Island Mysteries

This powerful collection of stories hit me hard, and I think it will leave you, like it did me, thoughtful about relationships and events in your own life, and also about people you may have known, even perhaps  have tried to help.

Most of the tales are narrated in the first person and by women. They seek escape from abuse and manipulation, and not always from male husbands and ‘lovers’. One tormentor turns out to be a therapist, another a female ‘friend’. We meet survivors bonding as they huddle in the soul-destroying shelters. We watch on as mothers, themselves survivors of dire relationships, struggle  to save their daughters from also being undervalued and misused.

The stories are permeated and to some extent driven by the conviction of so many victims of bullying and abuse that the blows dealt to them are somehow their own fault. This tenuous grasp of self esteem, even when a person has perhaps had years of space to feel safe again, is vividly portrayed in ‘Bad Good Friday’. A woman tries to cudgel up a sense of grief for her dead father, who was apparently, at best, a cold man, while all the long night someone’s locked up dog howls with its own misery.

The later tales have a lighter touch which leads you out from the others with a sense of relief, even a smile. Two are narrated by men and one in the third person, and while this change in form might seem at first discordant, I found it fitting. A wounded person often needs a wholly different perspective – usually that of someone who at last cares, to find the sense of hope the sub-title of these stories refers to.

Where to find it: First published in 2012, All Because of You can be now be found at Amazon. There is also a Large Print edition available. Note that the different formats (Paperback, Kindle and Large Print) have different covers.

Isobel Blackthorn has set several of her novels on the Canary Islands, beginning with The Drago Tree (reviewed here). Her Canary Island Mysteries include A Matter of Latitude  and Clarissa’s WarningYou can learn more about the novels and stories by Isobel Blackthorn  at her website.  

You are at Baffled Bear Books, the blog of Mark, guardian and blundering typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears. Mawson is writer bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In.

Only Freaks Turn Things Into Bones, by Steff Green and Bree Roldan

From the book’s cover: It’s little Grim’s first day at his new school. But the other kids .. call him ‘freak’ and refuse to play with him.

A parent drops his kid off at school. Ok, he’s the Grim Reaper, but what of that detail? Just another parent doing a drop off, whatever that parent’s job might be. His son, Little Grim, like every new kid, worries if anyone will like him.

‘Little Grim gripped his lunchbox tight. He tried to steady his shaking knees.’

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To his distress, he is seen as ‘different’ from the start. And he does something normal, so normal that most of us have done it at some time: he runs away.

But what if other people, lots of people in fact, are seen as ‘different’ too?

Beautifully presented in hardcover and with full page glorious coloured illustrations, this story lucidly tells how ..

.. Bullying is never ok. And you are not alone.

At Sticksnstones you can see a website by young people for young people about dealing with bullying. And here is KidsHelpLine for the same purpose.

Where to find it this book: From Odyssey Books , BookDepository (free shipping worldwide) and Amazon and AbeBooks.com; also Waterstones, Barnes and Noble and Chapters Indigo. Or, ask your friendly local bookstore to order it in for you, and for any friend who might appreciate this little gothic tale.

Mark is guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears.