Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The First Thing and the Last-Allan G. Johnson

The First Thing and the Last
Allan G. Johnson
Plain View Press, Feb 2010, $22.95
ISBN: 9781935514411

In Boston on his wife Katherine’s birthday, David Stuart explodes into a rage. As he has done before to Katherine, he batters her while blaming her for causing him to use his fists on her. This time Katherine knows it is different as he hits her face and slams her head several times; he always avoided that. When he grabs their preschooler Ethan, she begs him to give their child to her. He throws him against the wall breaking Ethan’s neck. She knows she is next, but grabs a knife and kills him.

She is rushed to the hospital. In spite of massive internal bleeding to include removal of her gall bladder, and emergency repair to her ripped liver and kidneys, the cops wonder whether she is a murderer. At the hospital and later on in her parents’ home, her family cannot cope as they blame themselves for not intervening and her for not leaving.

Vermont resident Lucy Dudley reads in the Globe what happened and visits Katherine at the hospital and invites her to live on her farm; she decades ago survived a similar ordeal. Katherine leaves for Vermont where Lucy hopes to help her heal.

This poignant shocking look at an abuse victim during a deadly assault from her loved one enables readers to see inside Katherine’s head as she is battered and Ethan killed. The afterward is also intriguing with the cops and even her brother wondering if she used excessive force while her parents try to avoid any culpability for not intervening. The two women help one another as they develop a loving friendship though Lucy’s efforts towards aiding Katherine in coping with her trauma are more obvious. The First Thing and the Last is must reading as Allan G. Johnson gets deep into the mind and soul of an abuse victim.

Harriet Klausner

No comments: