10 October 2012

Book review: Cruel Harvest by Fran Grubb

I am starting a new thing on this blog. I love reading, I do a lot of it, since it's something I can do one-handed. Part of what I do now is review. Occasionally, I may post these on the blog. I'm not abandoning stitching by any means, this is just another facet of who I am.

Cruel Harvest is the memoir of Frances, who survived devastating abuse from her father until she finally summoned the determination to run away. The book is the story of her non-childhood, in which she was betrayed by so many people, from the father who beat and molested her and her sister, her aunt, who starved her because she felt she was full of the devil, to her mother, who abandoned her. She fights to survive, at times sacrificing herself to save her small half-sister, at times turning her head because she knew if she tried to help, it only made things worse. In later years, she calls on her faith in God to reunite her family and finally, forgive her father.

I won't cut corners, this book is hard to read. As a parent, it was hard for me to fathom how another parent could damage a harmless child in the numerous ways Broadus hurts his children. The part of the book where he beats Mary Anne is particularly heart-wrenching; I really felt for her, and I wanted to cry for her and, even now, wonder how her life turned out. I was extremely upset at the implied fate of Frances' baby sister, and worried about her baby brother. I found myself having to put the book down and walk away, to catch my breath and steel myself to read on. Most books don't affect me in the way this one did.

The one thing I did not like about this book was that she left the fates of characters hanging. I wanted to find out if Mary Anne survived, and the baby, and her Mother, but we are never told of their fates. I realize it is probably because she did not know, but Mary Anne especially, her fate tugs at me. And I don't like that the interim years are skimmed over. Perhaps another book is in the future, with more detail, but the brief glancing blow over her adulthood, after all the horror, it didn't do her recovery justice. I wanted to read more about how her faith helped her forgive, the process of accepting that the past happened, but I didn't get enough of that.

I would recommend this book, but with reservations. If you have small children, it's hard to get through, since most of the time, I wanted to be angry and fight for Frances and her siblings. But it does have a message worth reading, that one can get through even the worst abuse. One doesn't ghave to be a victim, they can be a survivor.

I received a copy of Cruel Harvest from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I present are my own.


Cathy Pavlovich said...

Thanks for the review. It does sound interesting, but I can see how it could be upsetting. Kind of like The Glass Castle or Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found. Both are disturbing stories about childhood and bizarre upbringing.

Anonymous said...

Mary Anne was never found. I did find out that Millie left Broadus and moved away. I strongly suspect she moved back in with her parents, who adored Mary Ann. My mother was burried in her sister's family cemetary. I found her grave after many years of searching. I was able to get an education by working and studying for my GED at night. I hope this clears up some of the questions. I was only allowed 80,000 words for this first book and could not put everything that I wanted to in Cruel Harvest. I am writing the second book at this time. God bless you and thank you for your review.
Fran Grubb http://frangrubb

I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, then it is beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped--Frederick Perls