Sometimes, the true story is the hardest to believe.
TONY has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when Nick is badly hurt and it looks like he was the victim of sexual assault, Tony’s anger flares.
JULIA is alarmed by her husband Tony’s obsession with Nick’s case. She’s always known Tony has a temper. But does she really know what he’s capable of?
NICK went out for a drink. After that, everything’s a blank. When he woke up he found himself in a world of confusion and pain, and the man who hurt him doesn’t deny doing it. But he says the whole thing was consensual.
Three ordinary people; one life-shattering event. And when the police get involved, this family in crisis might be capable of anything . . .
Set to ignite debate and as gripping as your favourite box-set, Damage is a compulsive drama from an extraordinary new writer.
Do we truly know the devastating consequences of crime, the depth of emotion not just to the victim but to the wider family. What about the detectives that investigate and indeed those that look from the outside in, the newspapers and social media?
I don’t think we will ever truly understand but Wahrer did an amazing job of giving us some insight that really did make me question my own perceptions and thoughts.
What made the novel, what made it stand out were the unique voices of her characters, the effect, the actions as they absorbed the enormity of what had happened. Yes it had happened to Nick, rape by another man, but I felt the onus moved to his family, to those who didn’t know how to help, how to feel, the extreme actions they contemplated and took.
Julia appeared to take the lead, the lynchpin that seemed to try to hold it altogether. She was the steadying influence to husband Tony’s intense need to protect, to heal Nick, the lawyer who knew what the law could and could not do. Her relationship with Detective Rice the key as she met him a few years later and the truth slowly wormed it’s way out.
Tony, brother, intensely protective of Nick, the shield that protected him from alcoholic parents, that wrapped him in cotton wool determined to save him from the dangers of the world. Wahrer sent him into overdrive, his intense need to ‘fix’ the situation meant she pushed his thoughts and behaviour to the extreme.
What of the victim in all of this, Nick? Wahrer showed a man full of shame, of embarrassment that he couldn’t fight back. There was fear of what others would say, was he ‘asking for it’, was going back to a motel with another man clear intention that he wanted it or indeed got what he deserved? As he fought with his emotions, with the trauma, another truth emerged, yet we only felt empathy, sadness.
Detective Rice, wasn’t the pushy detective we are so used to reading, Wahrer gave him a gentle almost fatherly manner. Yes he wanted to bring justice, but he was our eyes that looked from the outside in. What did he see? A family that was slowly disintegrating, but also Julia, a woman who had inner strength, a capacity to go where she never thought she could, yet her actions had clear intentions. Wahrer showed a man at odds with his oath to the law, his catholic faith, his need to understand, before cancer took him prematurely.
Wahrer threw all those thoughts, questions together, made us really work hard to understand and make sense of what was happening, what direction we would be taken in and indeed how it would all end.
Was it the ending I wanted or indeed expected? For me it was a mixture of both, but at the end I understood why and admired the way in which Wahrer had managed to raise so many questions both moral and ethical whilst at the same time maintaining all the essential elements of a mighty fine novel.
I would like to thank Michael J Books for a copy of Damage to read and review and to Ella Watkins for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Caitlin Wahrer is a Maine girl through and through. She was born to two hippies who raised her in Canaan, a small town in central-southern Maine without a single stoplight in it. Caitlin left the state for four years to study criminal justice and marriage and family studies at a college in Pennsylvania. She returned to Maine after graduation to attend law school. She practices civil litigation in Portland. She and her husband, also a lawyer, live in South Portland with their dog.