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Beth Fehlbaum | Courage in Patience

October 3, 2008

Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse, released from Kunati Books on September 1, 2008. It is the story of 15-year-old Ashley Nicole Asher, who, after six years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse from her stepfather, finally finds the courage to reveal the painful details of her experiences with her mother, who refuses to acknowledge the problem and turns her back on her daughter. After confiding in her teacher—the only adult whom Ashley can trust—she is removed from her home and sent to live with her father and his second wife, Beverly, an English teacher. Nurtured by Beverly, an extraordinarily positive influence in her life, Ashley and a summer school class of troubled teens learn to face their fears and discover who they really are. One of the themes in Courage in Patience is religious extremism. I strongly believe that religion should not be used as a tool to tear people down. I think that belief comes through, loud and clear, in my novel.

Before she is removed from her home, Ashley experiences what becomes for her a crystallizing moment that colors forever her perception of religiously extreme belief systems. This happens after her classmates who, while not really friends, pretty-much ignored her, become intensely interested in whether or not Ashley is “saved.”

I based Ashley’s discomfort from this situation on something I experienced myself, when I was in seventh grade. A church in our town held a “pizza party”– but it was really a revival. Overnight, people I considered my friends, changed. I suppose, in their eyes, they had changed for the better. But for me, it was an isolating experience. Suddenly, my friends turned their backs on me, because they had found the “right” way, and they had the little brochures with the prayer in the back, to prove it.

Although I attended church, suddenly I was “not good enough” for my friends, only because my particular branch of the Protestant Tree did not use the word “saved”; it did not baptize by immersion; and it did not consider its way of believing to be the ONLY way to Heaven.

In my writing, I do not try to convert anyone to my way of thinking. However, I do think it’s important to reach out to kids who, like me in seventh grade, find that because of their friends having some childish understanding of what God is all about, they are suddenly on the “outs”, in spite of having done nothing wrong. To those kids, I would say, hang in there. You’re not alone. And, truly, I think that God probably hangs His head in shame, when people hurt others in His name.

Read an excerpt from Chapter One of Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse. The voice of the narrator is fifteen-year-old Ashley Asher. By the way, Chapter One may be read in its entirety. Just click to go to my blogspot page.

Beth Fehlbaum

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