Oprah Book Club® Selection, April 1998
: "The first time my husband hit me I was nineteen years old," begins Fran Benedetto, the broken heroine of Anna Quindlen's Black and Blue
. With one sweeping sentence, the door to an abused and tortured world is swung wide open and the psyche of a crushed and tattered self-image exposed. "Frannie, Frannie, Fran"--as Bobby Benedetto liked to call her before smashing her into kitchen appliances--was a young, energetic nursing student when she met her husband-to-be at a local Brooklyn bar. She was instantly captivated by his dark, brooding looks and magnetic personality, but her fascination soon solidified into a marital prison sentence of incessant abuse and the destruction of her own identity. After an especially horrific beating and rape, Fran realizes that the next attack could be the last. Fearing her son would be left alone with Bobby, she escapes one morning with her child. Fran's salvation comes in the form of Patty Bancroft and Co., a relocation agency for abused women that touts better service than the witness protection program. Armed only with a phone number, a few hundred dollars, and the help of several anonymous volunteers, Fran begins a new life. The agency relocates her to Florida, where she becomes Beth Crenshaw, a recently divorced home-care assistant from Delaware. Fran and her son adapt, meeting challenges with unexpected resilience and resolve until their past returns to haunt them. Quindlen renders the intricacies of spousal abuse with eerie accuracy, taking the reader deep within the realm of dysfunctional human ties. However, her vivid descriptions of abuse, emotional disintegration, and acute loneliness at times numb the reader with their realism.
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From School Library Journal
YA?This powerfully written story grips readers from the very first page. Fran and Bobby are crazy about one another from the moment they first meet, but his violent nature reveals itself even before they are married. Later, the "accidents" become more and more frequent and harder to hide: a broken collarbone, a split lip, a black eye. Finally, Fran escapes the abusive marriage, but by then she is damaged both inside and out. Assisted by a group that aids battered women, she flees with her 10-year-old son, Robert, who knows the truth but is reluctant to believe that the father who loves him so much could beat his mother so badly. Fran begins a new life with a new identity, but she lives in fear, knowing that Bobby won't rest until he finds them. Also, Robert longs for his father. Love between parent and child, coming to grips with the difference between passion and love, the importance of honesty in relationships, and self-knowledge as an essential part of healing?YAs can learn much about these and other themes in this novel about a shattered family and a strong woman determined to rebuild her life.?Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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