Today marks the release of a fantastic novella called My Sanctuary.
A lonely girl who dreams of an impossible future. A sullen boy with a troubled past. Together, with a stained glass angel, they form a bond that shelters them from the cruel indifference of life in a church-run orphanage in the 1950s. When a “secret game” leads to the unthinkable, a choice must be made that no mother, real or imagined should ever have to face.
A child can’t choose its mother, but maybe a mother can choose her child.
My Sanctuary is the story of Dot, a young teen growing up in a Catholic orphanage in the fifties. It isn’t a nice place to be, but there are bright spots in her life, from her crush on her school teacher Mr. Martin to taking care a fellow orphan named Kenny who she has dubbed her “baby.” Beyond that, though, Dot finds what we all need sometimes: a sanctuary, somewhere to go where a stained-glass angel smiles down on her and she can escape the everyday brutality she faces from other kids and the adults responsible for them.
Dot’s voice is distinct, authentic, and engaging; she draws the reader in with her first words. Among Ms. Lehoux’s great skills as a storyteller is her ability to peel back the layers of Dot’s world and shine a light on the horrors occurring while never leaving the perspective of a young girl. Without spoiling the story by giving details, I can say all it takes is one phrase to answer the question of why Dot is there or what happened to Kenny’s real mother, making the reader’s stomach bottom out and realize what has occurred. Though the themes the novella touches on are decidedly adult, My Sanctuary never feels like an adult is telling a child’s tale. No, Dot could be any fourteen-year-old, so real that as I listened to her tell her story, I wanted to wrap my arms around her and assure her everything would be okay.
Of course, the sad thing is that’s rarely true. Though set over fifty years ago, My Sanctuary is very much relevant today. Children suffer abuse and grow up too soon. Women have their bodily autonomy stripped away. People hide behind religion while committing horrible acts.
And everyone still needs a sanctuary.
Ms. Lehoux doesn’t merely depict darkness in this story but confronts it, unflinching and unwavering. At all times she remains true to her characters and the tale she set out to tell. Much like the angel in the sanctuary, the storyteller’s steadfast gaze never leaves Dot in her time of need when a weaker person would look away in fear. Through Ms Lehoux, the reader remains with Dot as well—even long after the story has ended.
Gut-wrenching, timely, brave, and nothing short of brilliant, My Sanctuary is a powerful read about the bonds of found family and the struggle to find refuge when we’re at our most vulnerable. I absolutely urge everyone to read it. Well done, Ms. Lehoux. Well done.
Today marks the release of the newest novel by Adrienne Jones, called Seeded. I adore Adrienne and her work, so instead of just talking about Seeded, I wanted to give a brief rundown of her other books.
If you've never read one of her novels...you need to rectify that as soon as possible. She's one of the most imaginative speculative fiction writers, tossing the idea of genre out and throwing everything--humour, science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy--into a blender until you're left with only one description for it: It's an Adrienne Jones Novel. Seriously, she should have her own section in the bookstore.
If you've never met her, follow the links to her on social networking sites that I added below; she's smart, funny, and she always assures me I'm not crazy when I bitch about something (she's my favourite).Read more