Moyer (Tragically Taken) stuns with a compassionate and unflinching examination of how to reconcile childhood physical and sexual trauma. The story is told from Army Major Marcia Thompson’s perspective as an adult, beginning with her resurfacing memories of a traumatic childhood that are triggered by the removal of her two adopted children from her home—all because Marcia expresses concern to their social worker about the children’s behaviors that indicate previous abuse. As she tries to come to terms with losing the children, Marcia is swept into her own past through flashbacks and nightmares that terrify her and concern her husband, Tony.

Readers will be absorbed by Marcia’s fight to heal as she slowly begins to spiral out of control, having emotional breakdowns and outbursts that threaten her stability. Her military service further hampers her recovery, as the family receives nearly constant transfer orders—and suffers from racism because they are Black. When they move to Colorado Springs, Marcia reluctantly starts therapy, allowing her the safety and security to work through her nightmares and begin freeing herself from her traumatic past, but the possibility of another relocation and the resistance of other family members to acknowledging her abuse leave her on the brink of devastation. 

Moyer addresses many difficult topics, and while sexual assault as a child by a family member is the primary focus, issues of racism also are prevalent throughout. In skillful storytelling, Moyer illuminates the struggle that many abuse victims undergo when trying to find validation from family members—a struggle that both empowers Marcia and frustrates her recovery. Moyer’s writing illuminates the urgency of accepting help and highlights Marcia’s reliance on her faith, steps that eventually allow her to heal and lead a fulfilling life. Readers should be aware of several triggers, including traumatic and potentially uncomfortable scenes that may be difficult to read. 

Takeaway: An arresting novel of a life spiraling out of control when a traumatic event triggers painful memories.