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Crescent Blues Book ViewsAkashic Books (Trade Paperback), ISBN 1-888451-63-7

I always look forward to an interesting and thought-provoking read -- with the added promise of a challenge to my most cherished assumptions -- when I pick up an Akashic book. Louise Wareham's debut novel, Since You Ask measured right up to my expectation. In it she examines some aspects of child abuse (a subject that distresses me beyond most) through a complex exploration of the psyche of one young woman who manages to survive it.

Book: loiuse wareham, since you ask
Betsy Scott narrates the story of her relationship with her older brother and other family members to her psychiatrist during her stay at the Dobson House rehab centre, where she finds herself after indulging in too much cocaine. She recounts these experiences in a tone of eerie detachment and acquiescence. One that almost seduces the unwary reader into suspecting her complicity in the sexual exploitations to which she finds herself subjected.

Therein lies the skill of Wareham's storytelling -- she succeeds in portraying that almost ineradicable sense of guilt that young victims of sexual abuse often carry with them. This guilt grows yet more profound, more convincing when these children realize that the adults in their lives will not accord them the protection and safety that they expected or hoped for.

An uneasy read about subtle denial, unacknowledged neglect and insidious exploitation of innocence and vulnerability. So very chilling to read the facility with which the adults in the young Betsy's life allow her to suffer the consequences of their urges and to take the blame onto herself for their abuses. Almost unbearable to know that this work of fiction depicts ubiquitous facts of life and to know too, that many if not most of the true-life stories of this kind do not realize an ending anywhere near so "happy" as the one portrayed here.

Moira Richards

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