Degree of Normal – A Woman’s Journey Out of Childhood Abuse
By: Barbara Harken
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake
Barbara Harken has chosen the platform of a psychological novel to relate her story of surviving childhood trauma, a story of abuse, rejection, and healing. Jocelyn Quint (the fictional Barbara) suddenly finds her defense mechanisms crumbling. Mounting trials follow the unexpected death of her mother.
A chance meeting with a fellow student, Alex Strumme, and the discovery of an unknown aunt, Paula, at her mother’s funeral, gave Jocelyn a ray of hope, the first step in breaking down the walls of recovery, and the possibility of finding emotional healing through redemptive love and courage. Small steps forward, then, another relapse into the fear of trusting anyone, and taking back the identity image of shame, pain and unworthiness; a cycle, repeated, over and over again; a stark look into the dark side of the multifaceted power of PTSD over its victim.
Barbara’s writing is punctuated with well-chosen descriptive phrases, gripping realism, and heartbreaking reality. Her story depicts the true picture of what dissociative identity disorder and PTSD is like from the point of view of the survivor. The book is designed to help these victims discover their own voice, their own strength, and their own pathway to healing and recovery.
Harkens has an ability to reach deeply into the soul of the reader and draw out an unknown sense of empathy for the hurting with understanding, the ability to listen without judging, and to listen with understanding, leading to self-discovery, and a personal sense of wholeness.
Barbara Harkens teaches writing at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. This is her third novel
A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.
Robert Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411, 978-1944297107, $ 16.95, 264 Pages