Courage in Patience is the story of Ashley Asher, a girl who has been sexually abused by her stepfather since he moved in with the family. When she finally escapes and moves in with her real dad, it's only the beginning of a journey towards redemption with other broken human beings in the little town of Patience.
It goes without saying that Courage is the story of a broken girl in an evil situation. Beth Fehlbaum does an excellent job of portraying Ashley's despair and confusion and even guilt about what happens to her. It would be easy to talk about abuse sensationally and with neon signs, but Fehlbaum tells the story without added romance or excitement: which makes it work from a literary perspective. It needs no neon.
I felt the antagonists (racist KKK-esque Christians) were not as well-rounded as the other characters like Junior, Kevin and company. It would have been interesting to see what motivates people to bigotry: is it malevolent ignorance? Is it explainable? What, honestly, makes people behave like that? However, the more time spent with Ashley the better, IMHO, and we do get a fair bit of time understanding her and the effects of her torture.
Overall, Courage in Patience is a read for any fan of Chris Crutcher and anyone looking for a window into the souls of abuse victims.
Next Week we will be hosting Beth Fehlbaum herself to talk about her inspiration for Courage in Patience, how she got published and what she would do with a time machine (or something like that.)