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Saturday, February 05, 2011

My review of Falling Through Ice by Carolyn Huebner Rankin and Rosetta D. Hoessli!

Falling Through Ice

About the book:

On May 27, 1987, the Times Picayune of New Orleans carried this front-page headline: Family Violence Adviser is Held in Plot to Have Husband Killed. The woman referred to was 29-year-old Carolyn Sue Huebner, of San Antonio, Texas. Founder and president of Texas Child Search, Inc., she had located 59 missing children since its inception in 1982, a better record than that of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Much appreciated by law enforcement and called upon for assistance by child abuse experts all over the country, she was an outspoken advocate against child pornography, child prostitution and child abuse. Treasured by the families she had helped, she had ultimately been nominated Woman of the Year by the San Antonio Light newspaper in February, 1987.

How could such a woman fall from this nationally-recognized position of prestige to that of a violent criminal in just three months? There had to be more to this tale than met the eye but Carolyn Huebner, who had always been good for a terrific quote, wasn t talking. Now, more than 20 years after the events that had once garnered national attention, she is breaking her silence. With brutal honesty and written in narrative form by the woman who walked beside her as both close friend and colleague during much of her journey, Falling Through Ice brings us directly into Carolyn s courageous struggle to come to grips with the secrets in her past and the disastrous effects those secrets had on her life. Falling Through Ice demonstrates the heights to which the human spirit can soar as it seeks to emerge from darkness into light, but it never offers the abuse excuse as justification for her criminal acts. Indeed, as terrifying and lonely as it was, Carolyn Huebner s incarceration saved her life and gave her the opportunity to discover the only lost child she had been afraid to find: The child within herself.

My review:

Falling Through Ice is gripping narrative non-fiction that is easy to read because the writing is so good, but at the same time it is emotionally gripping because it contains such realistic content. Anyone who has worked in social services can identify with the struggles of both the child Carolyn, and the crusader for abused children that Carolyn became as an adult. Some of the not-so-pretty details brought me back to the days when I worked on child abuse cases containing incest and people who had murdered their own children.

All of the scenes written about the investigative process, the district attorney's office, and stress resulting from dealing with a system driven by personal political aspirations rather than protecting the innocent rang true for me. I've seen similar situations in my professional career of over twenty years and the scenarios Carolyn writes about tend to lead to burnout more than dealing with the actual abuse the children had suffered from in the first place. The overwhelming sense helplessness when it comes to protecting children from known abuse is strong and can result in further trauma to the person who is trying to help, especially if they have their own history of abuse, like Carolyn had.

I found both of the authors' accounts to be very realistic and honest. Often memoir-type stories smooth over the truth in situations so they won't make the author(s) look bad, but this book rang true for me. The fact that the authors both shared how they truly felt about each other years ago just testifies to the extensive healing that must have taken place in their hearts from them to write so honestly about it. I loved that they wrote about how they actually said and did things even if it included a few phrases not typically seen in Christian books. I appreciate that type of honesty and it tells me that the authors were committed to telling the story as it was, not how they wanted it to be perceived by readers.

This book has the potential to heal broken hearts, to increase awareness of the need to fund therapy for people suffering from childhood trauma, and it shows how dealing with intense pain (rather than ignoring it) and having a support system is the most effective way to heal from the type of trauma that results in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Most of all, this book is about hope. No matter how broken a person is, God can always restore people who surrender their lives to Him. Falling Through Ice shows this better than any story I have ever read. The authors don't use the past to make excuses, but to show how a person can get to such a low place. Rather than feeling depressed when I finished reading the book, I felt inspired. That's something that doesn't happen often with narrative non-fiction. I can see this book easily hitting the best-seller lists.

My endorsement of the book can also be read on the Amazon sale page. It's in the editorial review section where the media reviews go. Pre-order this book now! It's truly awesome!

Falling Through Ice was published by Crossover Publications and will be released on February 25, 2011. The galley of this book was sent to me for endorsement purposes. The above review is fully mine and based on my opinion of the story itself, and thus my endorsement is not influenced by the author or publisher. According to Amazon, pre-ordered copies of this book will get the lowest price available, so go for it! 

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