Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What is this shit? Sentence of Marriage

Sentence of Marriage (Promises to Keep, #1)
The story of how rape and
abuse is all the victim's fault.

Why don't you tell us how you really feel?

I'm getting to it. GoodReads has this great feature where you can make multiple “shelves” for your books and name them as you please. Sentence of Marriage deserves its very own shelf. I named it “Fucked Up.”

I downloaded this book because it was free, it had a rating of at least three stars, and it was recommended to me as a “historical romance.” That was a goddamn lie. There is nothing romantic about this story. Historical? Maybe. Romantic? Nope. I call bullshit on that claim.

Wow, it appears you feel rather strongly about this.

You're goddamn right I do. It isn't often that I am sorry to have read something, but maybe I wouldn't be so angry with it if the synopses had painted a more realistic picture of what the story was going to be like. I mean, just look at it!
“In nineteenth century New Zealand, there are few choices for a farm girl like Amy. Her life seems mapped out for her by the time she is twelve. Amy dreams of an exciting life in the world beyond her narrow boundaries. But it is the two people who come to the farm from outside the valley who change her life forever, and Amy learns the high cost of making the wrong choice.”

A more appropriate synopses would have read:
“When her father unexpectedly marries a twit, 12-year-old Amy tries to make the best of a poor situation by showing kindness to her new stepmother. In return, her new mother showers Amy with contempt and emotional abuse. At the tender age of 15, Amy's new uncle (her stepmother's brother) sexually assaults her while visiting the family. After repeated promises of matrimony intended to coerce her into gratifying him, he runs away to Australia when he discovers she is pregnant. Can Amy surpass these hardships and lead a life she can still be proud of?”

Spoilers: The answer is “No.” Maybe you can start to see why I'm upset with this book. The actual synopses implies that someone with the ability to make a choice makes an unwise decision and must then face the consequences. In actuality, a teenage girl has no choice in what happens to her, is brainwashed into believing that she consented to having sex (She didn't. She very clearly said “no”), and then must suffer the consequences of her new status as a “sullied woman,” a broken object now devoid of worth. At one point in the story, her rapist (a twenty-something-year-old good-for-nothing posing as a gentleman), mentions that perhaps Amy should allow him to speak to her father before she goes mentioning anything about what “they” did (like she had any choice). Because, of course, he'll ask her father for her hand in marriage and they'll live happily ever after, and Amy wouldn't want her dad to break his arms, would she? Well, she didn't. But I did. So I continued reading, hoping.

She didn't want her father to break his arms? Why not?!
Sometimes authors do horrible things to their characters, then try to make up for it later in the story. One of the many horrible things Shayne Parkinson subjected our naive teenager to was having her fall in love with the man who would rape her. So after the rape occurred, the rapist convinced Amy that he had merely gotten carried away and it was all moot point because he intended to marry her. They only got a little ahead of themselves! And so, convinced that this was merely a lapse in judgment on his part and that he fully intended to marry her (and soon), Amy told no one what happened.

Wow... That's a terrible story!
It is. But it keeps going, and it gets worse

You're fucking kidding me...
I wish I were. You see, it's bad now, right? But then Ms. Parkinson refuses to satisfy our ensuing bloodlust, and instead proceeds to continue with the deliberate torture of a minor. Amy has her baby. Amy's baby is taken away. Amy gets married off to a much older man she has been terrified of her entire life in an attempt to salvage her and her family's name (despite the fact that her older brothers and her cousin beg her not to go through with it). This is bad, yes? The rest of the book, Amy is beaten and raped by her new husband. This was worse. At the end of the first book, she is pregnant by the monster she married.
Not a single good thing happened in this book. This was not a romance novel. It's the story of how a minor is put through hell and it doesn't matter that she's a good person. Her life is misery, and her abusers can carry on as they please. If I had wanted to read that story, I would've flipped through the news. If there was a poor choice on Amy's part, it was not committing suicide and ending her torture. (Actually, it was probably her decision to delay telling her father that she was pregnant, but that one is understandable.)

Apparently, there are people out there who think this is a good book. I even read a few reviews where people stated that this was a good book and that they enjoyed it. To those people I say, “I beg your fucking pardon?” What is enjoyable about a little girl getting raped and beaten? I am gobsmacked at the number of good reviews this atrocity received. As historical fiction, it might work. As drama, it might work. As a romance novel? No. Technically, the book is legible. Parkinson's writing works, the descriptions paint their pictures of horror terrifyingly well. It's just too bad the subject matter was so awful.

This is the first book in a series, and I downloaded it for free. I have never been so sorry to have read a story. I would actively discourage anyone from reading this.

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