Larry Bassett's Reviews > Black and Blue

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen
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Jul 22, 2010

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bookshelves: sociology, fiction
Read from July 20 to 22, 2010

I first read Anna Quindlen as a periodic columnist in Newsweek. I looked forward to her progressive writing. So when I saw Black and Blue on the used $2.95 shelf I thought I would give it a try. The topic, battered women, is one that I am familiar with as a result of my occasional dips into social work.

Considering the topic, I thought that the book was amazingly low key for the first half. I was thinking that I liked Quindlen better as a back page columnist than as the author of what she termed a novel. The book revolved around a woman who, along with her young son, goes into the "Witness" Protection Program for battered women. She is given a new identity and home to escape her abusive husband. I had never heard of this kind of service: they gave her fake ID, found her a job, and paid her rent and phone bill. Since I was scratching my head about this, wondering how common this is, and how likely. I am familiar with safe houses and other efforts to "hide" the victim from the abuser. I had heard of people who moved long distances and changed their identity. But I had never heard of an organization that provides these protective services. Since I had my doubts, I went to my source for all questions: Google. No luck so far but not giving up. The closest I've found so far: "The children would have to leave their school, she would have to leave all her friends and neighbors behind, etc. For some women it would be like being in the Witness Protection program--she could never have any contact with her old life."
http://www.letswrap.com/dvinfo/whysta...
Anyone have any information about this kind of a service?

In this book, the abused woman tells her own story. While it is put out as fiction, this book has a ring of truth as far as it explores the psychology and sociology of spouse abuse. The rant of the husband when he tracks her down in spite of her new name and new state is incredibly chilling and terrifying. The emotions at the end of the book brought tears to my eyes. For as low key as I found the first half, the second half was compelling and riveting.
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