Donna Anastasi's debut fiction novel, Spin the Plate, takes the life of one incest survivor and spins the outcome for her in a beautiful, redemptive way.
author's website: Time has done nothing to heal childhood wounds inflicted more than a dozen years ago, nor fade the memories. Now as an adult, Jo has given up on the human race, men in particular, investing her energies in tattoo artistry and animal rescue. Francis meets Jo during an altercation between Jo and another passenger on the Boston subway. Francis, the brains and speech writer for a Boston philanthropist and billionaire, is painfully lonely as his job requires that he maintain anonymity plus have constant exposure to the shallowness, corruption, and cruelty of humankind. From the moment he lays eyes on Jo, Francis sees beyond her rough exterior to the genuine, passionate, fearless, and beautiful person Jo is and pursues her with unwavering passion.
In a compelling story on living as an incest survivor and the how-to’s of love, faith, and healing, Jo discovers she is not alone in her fight to leave her past behind and move beyond sorrow into joy.
Donna's book is remarkable in that it will reach survivors of incest and other acts of sexual abuse and leave them with something positive to take away from their experiences, as incredulous as that might sound. Jo's experiences are horrid, and she clearly suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in that she plays flashbacks in her head as if they are on film, and she numbers them by episode.
And her flashbacks are intense and vivid. Fainthearted readers who take offense to language or mature themes won't appreciate it, but the fact of the matter is that people live with these types of nightmares every day. They are graphic and disturbing and shocking, and Donna portrays them realistically.
Francis in many ways represents Christ in this book. His steadfastness and security, always being there, always being patient, always putting Jo first. Christ is just like that. Jo wrestles with the big question of why a loving God would allow her to go through incest, and Francis helps her realize that perhaps it was to give her a "burning desire to save others in similar circumstances," which is exactly what Jo has a passion to do.
I really like the "spin the plate" idea, and can see myself using this in a therapy session. On Donna's website, you can see the sermon which sparked the idea for the name of this novel. Essentially, just changing one's perspective on their situation can make everything more...okay. Better. More bearable.
There is head-hopping throughout the novel, but when I asked Donna about this, she said she chose to break convention and allow the reader to know what both Francis and Jo were thinking at the same time. The effect is a big jarring, though. Also, I wasn't kidding about the language and vivid flashbacks. But if you know someone who has been sexually abused or experienced incest, enter the giveaway so you can give this book to them. It just might "spin the plate" to their circumstances and touch their heart in a way nothing else has.
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