Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review - Just Like Elizabeth Taylor by LuAnn Brobst Staheli

Twelve-year-old Liz Taylor has known for a long time that she would escape—escape the abuse against herself, and against her mother. She just didn’t know how or when.

Then the perfect opportunity comes—money left of the table by her mother’s abuser—and Liz is on the run. But a girl her age doesn’t have many options when it comes to hideouts, making a K.O. A. Kampground and a nearby middle school her perfect choices.

If only she can keep to herself, Liz, now using the name Beth, knows she can make it on her own, until things change, and she realizes she must face her situation head on if she is to save herself and her mom.


I wasn't sure what to expect when I decided to read Just Like Elizabeth Taylor by LuAnn Brobst Staheli. It was not a long winded book so I quickly found out the meat of it shortly after beginning.

Liz and her mother are being abused. Her mother by her boyfriend, and Liz by the boyfriend's son. Liz can't understand why her mother doesn't leave, but she won't. Liz decides she can't stay anymore and so she takes the boyfriends money and takes off. She parks herself at a KOA and enrolls in the school nearby. She's never reported missing. No one ever comes looking for her. She sets up camp in a shed at the KOA and does odd jobs in order to keep her money supply up so she can buy food, clothing, and things like a space heater to keep her warm during winter months.

She originally planned on keeping her head down and keeping to herself. But things don't always end up as planned.

*

My heart absolutely broke for Liz. And for her mother. But mostly for Liz. I know what it's like to be in an abusive relationship and so while I can relate to her mother... it makes me angry that she put her daughter in that situation with no real intention of getting her out of it. It makes me mad that Liz, who is the same age as my oldest daughter, would have to get herself out of harms way and live all by herself in an area completely foreign to her. No one to help her. No one to take care of her. No one to really care.

It's sickening.

BUT... I was kind of peeved at Liz too, for not telling her mother about the abuse from the son. Who knows. Her life could have been completely different had she said something. Maybe mom would have snapped out of it and decided her daughter was worth more than being in a relationship just for the sake of not being alone. But then again, maybe not. You never know.

She was so strong. Liz was. So much stronger than I think I ever could have been at her age. Having to go through what she did and then having to fend for herself for the better part of a year. Not falling apart despite all she'd been through. Knowing that no one had cared enough to even report her missing. Not that I think she should have gone back to that hell hole... but just the fact that it seemed no one wanted her.

I'm glad she was able to make a friend. Even if she didn't want to at first. Everyone needs a friend. Not a lot. But one special one. Liz was lucky enough to make two. Well, three by the end of it all. And every one of them played a part in saving her. Helping her truly save herself.

It was a very short story. Easy to read. Length wise. Subject matter is another story. It was good. It definitely hit close to home, but it was good. And kudos to LuAnn for being able to pack such a story in such a short time and still manage to develop all the characters thoroughly and satisfactorily.

I'd recommend this book to readers age 12-13 and up. But with the younger end of the spectrum I'd definitely set aside time to warn them about what they were about to read and then talk to them about it. It's not light subject matter. In the slightest. Liz goes through some horrible things.

But she's so brave. To go through what she did and come out on the other side mostly in tact. She had more courage than most adults would when faced with the same type of situation. But she was also able to realize and understand that sometimes it was ok to rescue and it was also ok to accept a rescue.

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