Thursday, October 11, 2012

Against My Will, Benjamin Berkley (3.5 stars) Review and Guest Post

Description of Against My Will
Publisher: Frederick Fell Publishers, Inc.,
September 1, 2012
Category: Fiction- Relationships, Abuse, Romance, Holocaust, Suspense
Available in: Print and PDF, 247 pages


AGAINST MY WILL is the life changing novel about Danielle, a victim of marital abuse, who finds the strength to leave her husband and pursue a career in law.

Danielle Landau knows she should feel lucky, but she can’t feel anything but dread. Not only did she pass the New York Bar, but she married the man her father says is just right for her and lives in a fashionable new loft in Queens. But the man who seems like the perfect catch is a perfect nightmare at home. Jacob tries to control her career, her daily routine, and even what she eats. He ignores her desires and belittles her every chance he gets. Soon, Danielle doesn’t recognize her husband or herself, and she struggles to find a way out.

Danielle tries to talk to her father but he dismisses her marital problems. But she can confide in her Nana Rose, a Holocaust survivor who lost her entire family at the hands of the Nazis. Rose helped raise Danielle and her brother when their mother died when Danielle was only three. Having faced death, Rose is Danielle’s source of security. But while Danielle holds on to the fragile belief that her father’s prince charming will change, she is raped by her husband on the night of their one year wedding anniversary.

Now, Danielle has to escape. And with the help of her beloved Nana, Danielle moves across the country and starts to rebuild her life. But will she be able to escape her past? And when one of her clients finds herself in the same terrible situation, will Danielle have the strength to help her?

As we follow Danielle on her journey of terror and recovery, we see her story intersect with the diary entries of her Nana as a young girl held captive in a concentration camp. The entries begin with Rose waking up in a hospital after the liberation of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. Graphically she recounts the train ride to the camp and the emotional separation of her from her family upon arrival. And the full weight of the family’s secrets becomes clear. This is a story of survival, self-discovery, justice, and ultimately, it’s about love.

*****

Thanks to Benjamin Berkley for providing some additional insight about Against My Will:

How difficult was it to write what sounds like an emotionally draining and challenging novel?

After visiting the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria and seeing firsthand how difficult it was to survive, drawing from my experience and then crafting a story about my character Irene was most emotional. Even more, contrasting her experiences from 75 years ago to those of a modern young girl who is in the grips of an abusive relationship caused me to pause many times as I too struggled to find the right words.

Did you find it difficult to wrap up the book and say goodbye to this character?

As for my character of Danielle, everyone likes a happy ending and I thought my readers would feel cheated if Danielle did not find the love of her life. Likewise, for everything that she endured, she deserved to find happiness. Finally, I cannot promise that I have said goodbye to her character so stay tuned.

*****

Review

On the surface, Danielle Landau has it together: she just recently passed the New York bar exam and is about to marry a guy her family likes. The problem, she's not in love. She looks past all the warning signs about Jacob, her new husband, in the hopes that things will get better. They don't. One evening, Jacob's controlling behavior escalates and pushes past what Danielle can overlook. 

Thanks to the support of her Nana, who has been through a life most of us can't fathom, Danielle flees to California and starts over. There she begins to heal, passing the California bar exam and joining the District Attorney's office. When she becomes involved with a client with a similar situation, Danielle finds the courage and strength to get justice for her client and a sense of closure for herself.  

Along the way, she meets Cliff. He brings the element she wasn't sure she'd ever find, a real and protective love. One she hadn't known since losing her Nana.

Although the story is told from Danielle's point of view, it's interlaced with diary entries from her Nana detailing the horrors of World War II. The author effectively switches back and forth, using both women to show the "story of survival, self-discovery, justice, and ultimately about love."

But because I was reading Danielle's story alongside Nana's, it was even harder to accept Danielle's fate. Today, woman have so much more power to avoid situations like Jacob. The warning signs weren't small. In fact, they were glaring. I couldn't help but compare Nana's situation, where she had no power and faced horrific world events, with Danielle's situation, where she should have. I found myself aggravated with Danielle until she left. Then I saw the strength of her character, and I felt invested as a reader. By the end, I was a fan.

I commend the author for taking on very delicate subjects and not shying away from the horrors associated with them. The novel would benefit from better editing, but the story is powerful. I recommend it for readers who appreciate a raw and honest journey of strength and endurance.

Rating: 3.5 stars

About Benjamin Berkley

Against My Will is Benjamin Berkley’s fifth book and debut novel. He is also the author of four self-help books: “My Wishes, Your Plan for Organizing Your Family’s Needs” (Sourcebooks, June, 2006) “The Complete Executor’s Guide” (Sourcebooks, June 2007) “Winning Your Social Security Disability Case” (Sourcebooks, February, 2008) and “Before You Say I Do Again, A Buyer’s Beware Guide to Remarriage.” (Frederick Fell Publishers, September, 2009).

And though writing is his passion, for over 34 years he has conducted a busy law practice in which he has seen many interesting clients come through his door. One in particular, an older woman with white hair, the kindest smile, and an amazing story became the inspiration for one of his characters for “Against My Will.” Berkley lives in southern California with his wife Phyllis and their cat Riley. He has two grown children and is always bragging about his most beautiful grandson and granddaughter.

*****

Thanks to Virtual Author Book Tours for including me on this blog tour. Please visit more blog stops on the Against My Will tour.

3 comments:

benber150 said...

Thanks for your review. I am available all day today if any of your reader's would like to post a question.

Teddy Rose said...

Thanks for taking part in the tour. I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

Teena said...

I enjoyed this book.

http://www.teenaintoronto.com/2013/02/book-against-my-will-2012-benjamin.html