________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 36. . . .May 21, 2010



Cheryl Rainfield.
Lodi, NJ: WestSide Books, 2010.
248 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-934813-32-4.

Subject Headings:
Sextual abuse-Fiction.

Grade 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Inderjit Deogun.

**** /4

Reviewed from Uncorrected Advance Proofs.



I dip my brush into the gouache, coating just the tip. The thick, opaque color clings to the bristles. Maybe I'll paint Carolyn and Mrs. Archer today. Maybe I'm ready. But when I put my brush to paper, it's Meghan who appears in the swirls of crimson, orange, and black. Pain flows from my fingertips and onto the paper, spreading before me like blood. The painting comes easily, like it's been waiting for me. A quick stroke of crimson here, a dab of black there, and then I'm done. I straighten up. The heavy ache inside me has gone.

I rinse my bush, then touch the soft, cool tips of the bristles to my lips. It feels comforting and somehow soothing. I need painting almost as much as I need cutting maybe more. Because if I couldn't paint, I'd be a girl without a mouth. I say things through painting that I can't say any other way. It's how I pull up the hidden truths, express the pain that I hide from others. But when things are really bad, it's only my utility knife that releases the screams inside of me.

Mrs. Archer leans over my work. "Wow. I like this," she says, tracing the dark, harsh lines of the figure. I've painted a girl, eyes huge and hurt, holding a flame out toward the darkness—only the flame is licking back to catch her hair.

Six months. That’s how long it’s been since the devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse came crashing back. Ever since then, Kendra hasn’t felt safe. Months later and she still can’t remember her abuser’s identity. Kendra searches the face and hands of every man in her life wondering if it could be him. Even more terrifying is that she’s certain he’s watching her.

    Kendra, 15, lives in constant fear for her life. Between the paralyzing memories and his unmistakable presence, she cuts to relieve the pressure. Besides her art, cutting is the only way Kendra can cope.

     When he sends her a palette knife, Kendra instinctively cuts deeper than ever before and in the process finds the desire to live. The only way she can end his control over her life is to remember. She must find the courage to relive the trauma so she can set herself free once and for all.

     Scars depicts the daily pain a survivor of sexual abuse must face. Cheryl Rainfield paints the horror of ritual abuse through both Kendra’s art and cutting. The brutality of Kendra’s cutting wrenches at your heart wishing you could take away her anguish. Rainfield’s refusal to hold anything back brings to light a story that can, perhaps, save a life. With Scars, she makes it known that a survivor can find happiness again.

Highly Recommended.

Inderjit Deogun is currently pursuing a career in publishing with a particular interest in children’s literature.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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