Publication Date: January 17, 2013
In Ripple: A Tale of Hope and Redemption by E.L. Farris, Helen Thompson is a powerful and driven lawyer who has drifted from her family when she discovers that her 15-year-old daughter has been sexually abused and exploited by her husband. Her husband is a highly respected judge, but he’s also been taking part in a child porn and exploitation ring. Helen knew that he wasn’t faithful but had no idea the depth and extent to which his depravity reached. She takes the ultimate risk and is forced to go into hiding with her daughter. Helen knows that the system is flawed and has a hard time trusting but knows she must do what she can to save her daughter.
The author, E.L. Farris, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
The start of Ripple: A Tale of Hope and Redemption reminded me of the television show Suits — ball-busting female partner and perfectly coiffed associate who is up for any sort of promised a partnership. The duo is working on a case important to their practice and careers. Helen arrives home early; her husband’s secret life has a neon arrow pointing toward it, and her world falls apart. She knew he’d cheated on her but never imagined that he would sexually assault his own daughter. The idea that she left her child in the hands of a monster leaves her guilt-stricken. The horror of the abuse and psychology of Phoebe, the daughter, is written creditably. I have not suffered abuse at the hands of a close relative, but I can imagine that the way in which Farris writes Phoebe is authentic. Helen, as people probably are in such situations, is self-absorbed while not really trying to be. She smacks herself mentally seeing things with new eyes. That person she judged because her husband abused her, now doesn’t seem so pathetic. If only she had done this or that leaves Helen trying to do the right thing now. At the moment of discovery, she is set as a person who acts instead of sitting back which makes her a very interesting read. Helen is a strong female character and Farris leaves little doubt that she will do what she has to do.
The story moves quickly. There is a sense of urgency to not only try to get justice but to help Phoebe. Child sexual abuse has to be a tough topic to write, and it certainly is a tough topic to read but if belabored it can overwhelm an audience. In Ripple: A Tale of Hope and Redemption, Farris takes care to give the reader hope (as stated in the title), and there is a potential end date to the suffering and the narrative will constantly move toward that end date. There are points in which hope is perhaps applied with a very heavy hand, but with such a challenging topic, one has to be careful not to embrace the idea that things will be too shiny and happy too quickly. Farris does seem to sense those moments and pull back in the story.
Readers of this blog will know that I love a good baddie. If you’re looking for a book with a good baddie, this is not the one for you. There are times you can tell when an author isn’t comfortable with a subject. Alex Kava, in her series, clearly isn’t comfortable writing romantic relationships so why do it, you ask? Because it makes the book more marketable. In theory the book is more marketable, in fact, the misguided dynamic distracts from a solid story. This is the case with Farris’s baddie. He’s an extreme contradiction. For one, he’s a frat boy stereotype who is not the least bit clever and secretive yet the audience is supposed to believe that he poses a serious threat to the characters. It is essential in fiction to suspend disbelief, but believing that the bad guy can pull off what he plans whether he does or not in the story may be asking too much.
Overall Ripple: A Tale of Hope and Redemption is a solid read. The story is well written and constructed and perfect for fans of stories in which characters overcome great odds.
E.L. Farris is a former lawyer who lives in northern Virginia with her family. Ripple: A Tale of Hope and Redemption is her first novel. A young adult version of the novel is also available.
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