Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Blog Tour: Review + guest blog post Long Hill Home by Kathryn Pincus (Fiction, 10E/10E)

 January 2015, Koehler Books, 250 pages, Ebook, Review copy 

Themes: family, helping others, 

Content: a bit of violence, rape scene & aftermath, can't quite remember if there's any swearing, tissues needed

Summary from Kathryn's website
Kelly Malloy is a wife, a mother and a successful lawyer whose world is shattered when she is brutally attacked while running along the banks of the Brandywine River. Chad McCloskey, a lonely teenage boy from a dysfunctional home, stumbles upon Kelly Malloy’s unconscious body immediately after the assault, and he is falsely accused of the crime after he tries to help her. Maria Hernandez, a young woman who emigrated illegally from Mexico, is reluctantly thrust into the role of witness to the crime, putting her in jeopardy of deportation only weeks before she is to give birth to her child. Kelly, Chad and Maria all suffer tremendous adversity in the wake of the crime, and they ultimately discover that their lives and their fate are inextricably and permanently connected

Nayu's thoughts
Kathryn writes about a topic which isn't pleasant but is one close to my heart. I feel strongly about women who are raped, because they are violated and are forever changed by their experience. It can happen from someone they know, it can be followed up with murder, or there are those like Kelly who close down before they open up to their loved ones. 

There's no getting around this was a hard read because it's sadly something that happens a lot in real life. I wish all women and men (it's not just women who get raped) who get raped receive the help and compassion that Kelly does, that such kind people as the joggers found them. Being shown kindness right when you are at your most vulnerable when Kelly woke up after the incident must help a smidge to restore hope in humanity, that not everyone is as barbaric as the man who hurt her. 

As awful as it was reading about Maria's reluctance to initially say anything, I understood it was her mother's instinct kicking in, she wanted to stay with her baby after it was born. I cheered when she disobeyed her husband - usually I'd agree doing what your husband says, but in this instance Maria did the right thing, even though the consequences were potentially life changing. 

Like me you won't be disappointed by the end of the story which was journeyed to with a maelstrom of emotions, both positive and negative from all the characters. It's not a a comfort read, but it is one I'll reread in time just because it's so good, especially the part where the title comes from. I might skip over when Kelly is raped, it's not mega graphic but I have a tendency to think about real life instances which can get me down, so by skipping that part I'll remember what happened to Kelly but not have it so vivid in my mind.

Find out more on Kathryn's website

Suggested read
For another tale involving rape try If I Forget You by Michelle Davidson Argylle (New Adult, 10E/10E)

Guest Post by Kathryn Pincus, Author of Long Hill Home

Nayu here! In addition to such a brilliant read it is an honour to have Kathryn talk about writing Long Hill Home, how it came to be and what kind of research went into writing the book. Thank you Kathryn for stopping by on your tour! 
How My Ideas For the Plot Slowly Grew to Become Long Hill Home

Almost every morning, as the sun is beginning its ascent into the sky, I lace up my running shoes, stretch, and bound out the door. A feeling of contentment sets in immediately—not the fabled “runner’s high” or anything as dramatic as that—just a sense of calm and happiness, a transcendence over my daily milieu. As I enter this physical state, my mental state begins to wake up and roam freely. The caffeine I consumed an hour earlier may be the catalyst, but the real reason for my mind’s exploration is the fact that it is blissfully unoccupied. There are no televisions blaring in my ears, no social media pages flashing before my eyes, and no teenagers asking me where their football jersey could be. My thoughts begin to wander to varying and random subjects. Often they get stuck on a particular subject and begin to analyze, dissect, and elaborate on that subject, as if I were attempting to persuade some illusive audience.
From 1991 through 2005 I was a full-time attorney practicing corporate, commercial and employment law and litigation. A significant part of my responsibilities in that role involved writing complex legal documents such as briefs, position statements and other work product. I loved that part of my job, i.e., compiling a factual record through discovery, researching the relevant law, and weaving the factual record and the law together into compelling arguments to persuade a judge or arbitrator to decide the dispute in favor of my client. It is essentially the telling of a story—but within the framework of certain facts and law.
In 2005, I quit the practice of law to provide better care for a busy household with two teenagers and two elementary school age children. While I do not regret that decision for one moment, I did miss many aspects of my profession, and most particularly, the process of writing. But I still had my daily morning run—and during those runs my mind began to weave a story……
I began writing the manuscript that became my debut novel, Long Hill Home, over six years ago. At first the story evolved in my head as I went for my daily morning run, past Breck’s Mill, over the mossy banks of the Brandywine River and through the expansive lawn of Rockford Park. At first the story evolved out of my own fears—a woman running alone always has to worry about the “what if….”
After the beginning of my story was set, and a woman running past Breck’s Mill was abducted and assaulted, I started to think about the other people involved. I created a scared young man who makes a poor decision while he is trying to do the right thing, and as a result he is falsely accused of the crime and imprisoned with dangerous felons. I saw a young pregnant woman peeking out of a window above the crime as it unfolds, horrified by what she is witnessing but terrified to alert the authorities because she is in this country illegally. Every day as I ran, the story unfolded and became more complex. Once the roots and the trunk of my story took hold, they were fleshed out with smaller branches and lush leaves. The main characters all had background stories, they each had a path of adversity ahead (their “long hill home’), and I had an obligation to see them through.
Over time I found moments here and there after my morning run to sit down and type my story at my computer. I did this in small pieces over years, because I was extremely busy with family, household and numerous volunteer positions. As my children got older and my duties and distractions diminished significantly, I became more purposeful at writing my story.
I deliberately set my story and created its characters and events based on my real life experience--places, people and a profession that I was very familiar with. Long Hill Home is set in the neighborhood that I live in, the trails that I run on, the city park that I frequent, the courthouse that I practiced law in for many years and other buildings and places that I am personally very familiar with. The characters in Long Hill Home are fictional, of course, but they are an amalgamation of physical and behavioral traits of people I have known personally, or observed or read about. Even my real life profession—the practice of law—figures prominently in Long Hill Home. This familiarity and real life experience is essential for me to write vividly and convincingly. I wanted my readers to be able to see the people and places of Long Hill Home, and feel as if they are in the book—a true vicarious experience. I couldn’t do that without using my real life experience.

Finally, once the kernel of the story that I developed during my morning runs became a complex story, with characters, settings and events that I was capable of vividly describing, I finally had to turn to outside sources to learn about or verify a few pieces that were slightly outside of my bailiwick. First, I ran a few questions regarding Delaware criminal procedure by a friend who is an experienced prosecutor with the Delaware Attorney General’s office. I had practiced civil litigation, and I knew how to research the Delaware Rules Of Criminal Procedure, but I wanted to know how the procedure plays out in practice. Second, I asked someone at the Wilmington Latin American Community Center about how they provide legal advice to their clients, and she directed me to an attorney who answered all of my questions. Finally, I did my own research: (1) on the law on immigration; (2) DNA Testing; and (3) the science and procedure of chemical capture—i.e., the use of anesthetic drugs to immobilize an animal to capture it.

Finally my manuscript was complete. Now I just had to get through editing, proofreading, and copy layout review with my publisher—and that is when I started to long for the days when I could work while running along the banks of the Brandywine River.