November 17, 2014

Tell Me of Brave Women by Laura Riley

Stories about domestic abuse and overcoming obstacles always speak out to me.  You want to know that with all the unfairness in the world that there is a reason for it, that it can be overcome.  Tell Me of Brave Women is all about domestic abuse, and the women who set out to fight it.

Tell Me of Brave Women follows three different women and to an extent, one man.  Samara is a storyteller, who has traveled around the world with her husband, and in her travels, helped to found Secret Sisters.  Secret Sisters is an organization that helps battered women around the globe.  Thelma is a bartender in Appalachia who witnesses a brutal domestic attack and despite not liking "weak women" finds herself drawn to the victim and willing to help.  Evangeline was taken hostage by a crime lord and forced to become his slave in all ways. While she has freedom sometimes she chafes under his rule and the violence with which he lashes out at her. Hassad is an inspector in a country where women are considered less.  He has to follow his superiors orders, even if they are not always honorable.

I can't say that I really liked any of the characters except for Thelma.  They didn't ring as authentic for me.  Samara, while an interesting storyteller, was hard to follow because of the way her timeline and story jumped around.  I could empathize with her to a point, but understanding her motives was difficult at times.  Evangeline was a little better.  She was forced into a situation but still tried to make the best of it and do what she could to help others.  She was the bravest out of all the women by far.  Thelma was a good woman but probably had the simplest storyline of the bunch.  She witnessed something happen, didn't like it, and sought to change it.  Her storyline was much more convincing than all the others and fit with what her actual abilities would have been.  I was glad to see, that although there were some seriously evil men in this book, there were also quite a few that were good and exhibited positive attributes.  Too often books with a women empowerment theme will have every male character as horrible, and that was not the case here.

This book jumped around a lot because of all the different point of views. To add into that, one of the characters, Samara, had a storyline that jumped all over in her history and the present, which added another layer of confusion.  The writing was jumpy as well and not quite as polished as I would have expected.   The voice seemed young and while that was appropriate for Evangeline, it didn't fit the rest of the characters.  There were also some action scenes that I had trouble swallowing as well.  I think condensing and restructuring the book would have really benefited it.  That being said I think the theme of domestic abuse is a pertinent one.  It shows a group of characters willing to do something about what they see as an injustice in the world and to help women who need it wherever they may be.  The "Brave Women" of the story didn't have to do anything outstanding, just being a voice for the unheard is brave.  So on those merits, this book is important.

I like the concept of this book but just couldn't quite get into the execution.  But those who have read about domestic abuse, or gravitate to books that tell a story through different characters will probably be able to sink in quite easily with this book.

**This book was received as a free advanced reviewer's copy**

Tell Me of Brave Women
Copyright 2013
498 pages

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