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Morning Coffee-Review of “Tell Me When It Hurts”

Author, reviewer, Fran Lewis has written a wonderful review about the above book by Christine Whitehead, author and attorney.

A minute formal point, detail so insignificant that when brought to bear upon a main issue it is meaningless and should have no weight on the final outcome. This often occurs during a trial when the jury listens to the evidence and the judge decides to throw out a case because of some minor technicality that should have been addressed before bringing the case to light. But, sometimes we don’t know that a particular procedure, although followed correctly, is not and a defense attorney finds a loophole and gets the suspect off. This is the case in the murder of Annie Mackenzie. When the legal system fails, as it did Annie, what do you do? How far would you go to avenge the death of your child? Sometimes the only way to get things done is to do it yourself!

Imagine a piece of fine porcelain or blown glass breaking into millions of pieces when accidentally dropped. These pieces of glass or porcelain that were once whole cannot be restored to their original shape or form. Lives can be shattered and broken into millions of pieces and never restored when a tragedy strikes as Archer Loh found out when learning of her daughter’s death. Those pieces can never be made whole and the original shape forever gone.

Annie Mackenzie went on a school trip and was excited about seeing the sights of Washington DC. Taught not to talk to strangers or go off on her own, Annie left along with her friends and chaperones to embark on her first overnight trip. Then the unthinkable happened. Becoming separated from the other students on her bus, she meets a stranger that offers assistance. But, not the kind any parent would want for her child. Faced with a difficult choice, Annie enlists the help of a stranger to find her classmates and chaperones. Once again she is failed. This time by those in charge of the trip and the school as well. Why didn’t anyone know she was missing? Why didn’t anyone tell Archer and Adam after it happened? Failure is unacceptable and must be handled at any cost!

Who was responsible for the senseless death of this child named Annie? Is it the killer, the chaperones, the teachers in charge or all of these people that were supposed to care for the children on the trip and prevent this from happening? Managing the safety of your child when they are in the company of friends or other people is difficult and scary for parents. Annie needed to find her bus and placed her trust in the wrong adult. Viewing her as weak, helpless, defenseless, the offender manipulated her to fulfill his needs and the outcome proved tragic for more than just Annie and her parents.

Archer Loh could not handle what happened to her daughter, and although she considered her father her knight in shining armor and hoping he would come to the rescue, no one could. Distraught and unable to handle life, her career as a lawyer and more, she became despondent, depressed and turns to alcohol for comfort. Adam, her husband, supportive at first, realizes their marriage has ended and she moves away with her dog, Hadley to log cabin in the Berkshires. Tell Me When It Hurts: If you asked Archer she might say: It Never Stops! The pain and the guilt are constant and although she is not responsible for her daughter’s death, she eliminates all rationale by blaming herself for her child’s death because when she failed to attend the trip as a chaperone. But, would the events have turned out differently? No one will ever know, certainly not Archer.

A vigilante is someone who decides to take the law into his/her own hands. The person acts as his/her own law enforcement and might form a group or organization of such people to mete out their own form of justice to what they might call worthy offenders. Often these people incorporate themselves or present themselves as a private security firm or a non-profit organization. Righting the wrongs that the justice system failed to prosecute this organization eliminating the problems minus the fanfare, the trial and the notoriety. Do you agree?

Into Archer’s life walks Connor McCall a tall, handsome and distinguished man who slowly enters her life and changes her perspective and outlook on life. He owns 300 acres of land near hers and has a Harvard Business Degree and a sheep ranch. Meeting Archer changes not only her life, but his too. Learning about his past he tells Archer about his daughter Lauren and why he has no contact with her. Archer convinces him to change that. Archer is an Olympic level rider and had given her daughter a horse named Allegra, which she loved. Archer can’t face losing her daughter and abandoned her family, friends, career, and horses and creates her own timeline, agenda when dealing with her own issues. She even joined a secret group learning training as a skilled assassin for the government. This illusive and secret group of vigilantes, along with Archer, pronounces and performs their own sentence on the criminal in question.

Connor McCall learning her truths and her secrets, tried to help restore her faith in love and herself, until he got too close and she had to choose between him and remaining close to her memories of Annie shattering yet another piece of fine blown glass and two lives. Connor was not devoid of mistakes or guilt. Allowing another man to raise his child Connor thought would be best for nine -year old Lauren. But, not in her mind and was it too late to become part of her life? Both Connor and Archer form their own special bond, but when asked to choose between her life at present and become part of his, Archer regresses back into her own private world of isolation.

Christine Whitehead brings to light many important issues in this novel. The first is the issue of vigilante justice, next abuse, neglect, forgiveness and hope. Forgiveness is hard when you blame yourself. Christine Whitehead allows the reader to understand the pain, the heartache and agony that Archer faces each day in order to find her way back to herself, understanding self compassion and begin to heal. Abuse is unforgiveable whether physical, spousal, verbal, child, or sexual. Through Archer and the Group deals with those who have inflicted that pain on others the reader has to decide whether he/she agrees with how they mete out their own brand of justice.

A father who decides it is best to allow another man to bring up his child for her sake. But, is it? Adoption often brings with it privacy and anonymity for the real parents. But, sometimes a child might want to meet their real parents and then things can get out of control. Children are often more forgiving and hopeful than adults. When Connor meets his daughter Lauren she is so taken with him and of course Alice, his dog and Millie, his horse, an instant bond is formed. Not wanting to create a rift between her adoptive father and her, Connor becomes an integral part of her life as a good friend. With characters whose voices are clearly heard and so brilliantly defined, the author takes the reader on a journey that no parent should have to go on and the end result will surprise you.

Alienation sometimes brings your closer to your end result. Part of The Group, she has agreed to eliminate a man guilt of heinous abuse on his family. Freed due to a minute point of law, Gerald Jerome must pay. But, one simple turn and one wrong move changes the course of events for Archer and the stark reality’s of life find their way back. But, will it be in time?

Each hit or death brings closure to the victim’s family. Some may get a piece of their lives back and feel some sort of redemption. Hiding behind the Group and not counting on God to carry out justice, this group became her salvation and given her the strength to go on. Sent to eliminate a man who committed many counts of abuse and escaped justice, Archer faces more than just a killer. One final hit, one fatal shot, one moment of total illumination will change the course of events for her forever. What does happen you will have to read for yourself. What are the final choices that she makes and will she decides to change it with Connor or continue on as before? Hurt and dejected, will Connor allow her back into his life and work through their losses, fears, and despair and find hope and deliver themselves from sin and seek their own redemption.

When the law fails, should we? Would you join the Group? You decide after reading this outstanding novel.

A child whose memory will never fade. A vision that will bring back her light. A mother who never gave needs to come full circle and accept some decisions that can’t be changed. A book equal to that of any on the N.Y Times bestseller list. Issues that need to be addressed, school that need to be more responsible and children that need to know: NEVER GO OR TALK WITH STRANGERS! I give this book Five Gold Stars in Memory of Annie

Tell Me When It Hurts: It will never stop hurting but the pain will ease and your life will go on if you let yourself FORGIVE Yourself AND UNDERSTAND!

Fran Lewis: reviewer

Author of Memories are Precious and the Bertha Series of Books

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This entry was posted on Thursday, April 8th, 2010 at 5:19 am and is filed under Clients, Friends and Colleagues, Industry News, Press Releases, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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