Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Clara Ann Burns Story by Heidi Ann Smith

The Clara Ann Burns Story by Heidi Ann Smith
Published by Monkey Puzzle Press
Paperback Release Date: November 1, 2011
ISBN: 0982664672
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

About The Author:

Heidi Ann Smith grew up in the Chicago area and began publishing poems as a child. At a young age, she won various local and academic awards for her writing; based on her writing abilities, she was awarded a scholarship to a private high school and attended college courses during her high school years. After high school she began raising a family and was taken away from her writing, but soon returned to complete a Bachelor of Arts from Eastern Illinois University. She then earned a Master of Arts in Humanities from California State University and a Master of Creative Writing from Goddard College. Several of her poems recently found homes in various journals, and she published a scholarly thesis on the German artist George Grosz. Heidi is currently a PhD student studying Creative Writing at Middlesex University in London, England. The Clara Ann Burns Story is her first novel.

Book Publisher Website

Disclaimer: At the request of the author and publisher, a paperback ARC edition of this book was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review. 

Virtual Book Tour Event: On Thursday, November 3, 2011, in association with Pump Up Your Book!, Heidi Ann Smith participated in a virtual book tour event with an Author Guest Post on Jersey Girl Book Reviews. Book Description: 

The Clara Ann Burns Story is a short novel, in which a woman who suffered child abuse looks back over her turbulent life as she approaches her fifties. It is a story of a young girl, Clara Ann Burns, who was tortured, abused and neglected by her family. When she was old enough to go out on her own, she got herself into situations that were not always the best. But in the end she raises her own family and holds onto the hope of healing and living without fear.

The Clara Ann Burns Story is available for pre-order and will be released in paperback edition on November 1, 2011. - The Clara Ann Burns Story

My Book Review:

The Clara Ann Burns Story is a short fiction novel that is very disturbing yet interesting. The story does not read like a typical novel, rather the author has filled it with prose, poems, one minute plays, scholarly studies, and photographs. The story is written in the first-person narrative by Clara Ann Burns, who provides disturbing snippets of child abuse (emotional, physical and sexual), neglect, and family dysfunction that she endured in her childhood. From a very early age, Clara Ann endured the full range of abuses from her mother, step-father and older brother. The effects from the abuse she endured throughout her childhood led her to make some poor choices as she went into adulthood, namely alcohol abuse, drug abuse and promiscuity. Thankfully, when she was in her early twenties, she met a young man who helped her overcome her habits and showed her that she could live a normal, healthy and happy life, this man became her husband. Through gaining her sobriety, Clara Ann was able to raise five well-adjusted children, and she showed them that in life, everything is connected. This is a story of how a young girl overcame the victimization she endured in her childhood, and became a survivor in her adulthood. 

I found this short novel to be a very disturbing story to read, as it did not read like a normal short story would. The fact that the 95 pages in this novel contained timelined snippets of her story mixed with prose, studies, poems, one minute plays and pictures did not sit well with me. While I will admit that the mixture of contents in this novel was interesting, I would have preferred to read a story that was written in the traditional way, a storyline with normal chapters. As for the story itself, this was a very disturbing and sad story to digest, it is not an easy read. To say the least, this story has a very real feel to it, and sad reality in our society today. Nonetheless, I will say that anyone who maybe in the healthcare or social services industry might find this story intriguing. 

I think the most powerful portion of this story was the author disclaimer statement in the front of the book: "This is an attempt to speak for those who suffered loss and abuse but were deprived the luxury of speaking - it exposes details that might have otherwise been unnoticed, ignored, or forgotten."


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