C.J. Darlington's sophomore novel peeled back the curtain into certain life situations people have the misfortune of living. Heartbreaking, and utterly true. I know this because I see these people in my office every day.
Here's a blurb about the book from C.J.'s website:
Shuttled between foster homes, Roxi Gold will do anything to fit in. Soon she’s traveling the country stealing rare books from unsuspecting bookstores. Police officer Abby Dawson has seen the worst of society—and not just at work. One fateful night, both their lives are changed forever. One searches for justice, the other finds herself on the run. Will the power of forgiveness set them free?
I was happy to be allowed to review the stand-alone sequel to C.J.'s first book, Thicker than Blood. C.J.'s tag is "Stories of Real Life & Real Hope." Real is definitely what you get with C.J. Her second book had a heroine with more issues, if possible, than the one in her first book. C.J. doesn't shy away from the tough issues, and she portrays them in all their ugliness and sadness, which serves to bring the hope and forgiveness they find into sharp relief.
Roxi, the young 16-year-old heroine, captured my heart because I work with teens just like her in a group home type situation. Some reading the book might think that Roxi's story is too melodramatic to be real. But I gotta say that C.J. nailed her and her tragic story so well, it's like she pulled up a chair and chatted with me about some of my clients and created Roxi from our discussion.
Donning my therapist cap, if Roxi really were in my office, I'd give her the diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAS), predominantly inhibited type. But RAS can be manifested in a child who exhibits an overly inhibited, hypervigilant, or highly ambivalent (contradictory) response, such as a mixture of approach, avoidance, resistance to comforting, or exhibiting a frozen watchfulness. Man, is that ever Roxi.
Also, a child with RAS has had pathogenic care, like the persistent disregard for basic emotional needs for comfort, stimulation, affection, physical needs, and repeated changes in primary caregivers that prevent formation of stable attachments....e.g., frequent changes in foster care like poor Roxi.
So that gives you an idea of what kind of girl Roxi is. She's a troubled teen, and society would view her as damaged beyond repair. I'm so grateful the Lord doesn't look at us that way. Even a diagnosis such as the one above doesn't preclude a child from eventually forming an attachment. C.J. allows the reader a satisfying ending that is not far-fetched. Handling Roxi is like handling a dog who has been abused....and interestingly enough, the dog Roxi clicks with in the book, Selah, had an analogous past to Roxi's own.
Love rules supreme in this book, and the takeaway lesson is that's is preferable to always follow God's leading, even when it might not make sense to you (like taking in a 16-year-old runaway with major trust issues). He's got things happening for a reason.
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