Judith D Collins
Age of Consent
By: Marti Leimbach
Publication Date: 7/26/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars From the author of Daniel Isn't Talking and Dying Young comes a shattering new novel, a page-turner about an estranged mother and daughter who must come to terms with their shared painful past Thirty years ago, June was a young widow with a hopeless crush on a Craig Kirtz, a disc jockey at a local rock station. To her surprise, the two struck up a friendship that seemed headed for something more. But it was June's thirteen-year-old daughter, Bobbie, whom Craig had wanted all along. Bobbie thought her secret life—the sex, the drugs, the illicit relationship itself—could remain safely buried in the past. But when she discovers that Craig had similarly pursued any number of other young girls, Bobbie returns home after a long absence with one purpose in mind: to bring Craig to trial.
Her decision is greeted with mixed feelings. Some people think that bringing charges against someone for a crime committed so many years ago is unjustified. She's called a "middle-aged woman with a vendetta." She's accused of waging war against her own family. June remembers things differently from the way Bobbie does. Craig insists he has done nothing wrong. But the past has a way of revealing itself, and some relationships lay dormant through the years, ready to stir to life at the slightest provocation.
While their traumatic history is relived in the courtroom, Bobbie and June must face the choices they made and try to make sense of the pain they endured while seeking justice at long last. Told with warmth and compassion, this is a moving, deeply absorbing story of a family in crisis.
A special thank you to Doubleday and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. From the author of Daniel Isn’t Talking and Dying Young, Marti Leimbach delivers a dark and disturbing tale AGE OF CONSENT, a haunting portrayal of a young teenage girl trapped, sexual and psychological abuse, molestation-a relationship with a man- a heavy burden to carry. Then the unthinkable, he moves into their home, when her own mother takes him in. It is the daughter he is after, not the mother. It is 1978, Bobbie (Barbara) is a young teenage girl of fifteen years old, attempting to escape the clutches of a psycho-controlling man obsessed with her. He likes them young and flawless. He plays with her mind. Craig, age twenty-eight years old, a Maryland disc jockey for a local radio station. A secret relationship. A local celebrity. An evil monster. Bobbie finally gets her shot for escape during an automobile accident. She thinks hopefully he will die. However, the worst thing happens. He is still alive. Her mother, June is stuck on this guy and visits his hospital daily. He is twisted and her mom falls for him. She is clueless to her daughter’s own needs. He now has the mother and daughter under his sadistic control. The monster isn’t staying away. He is forcing her from her own home. A continuous argument over the $1,000. The biggest problem of all was how much her mother liked Craig. She would tell him exactly where Bobbie was, none the wiser while Craig set on his hunt. Bobbie runs away and years later, she returns to the town, for the trial. To bring charges against the man who abused her, after learning he has done to same to other young girls. Decades ago she told herself she would never come back, never even look back. Now here she is. Alternating between 1978 and 2008, the author details every evil deed and the horrible crimes against a poor young girl. A predator, who makes it his life mission to torture her even years later. (this is one sicko). Now her step-father. Bobbie feels a combination of tenderness and rage—that her mother could command such love from her, that her mother could sully that love by talking about Craig. She has to face the scorn from others and is named a “middle-aged woman with a vendetta.” She’s accused of waging war against her own family. Her step-father. Her mother. Everyone wants to know why she did not speak up years ago. What about the mother, June who was not there to save her, even during the trial, she takes the monster’s side. A powerful portrayal of mother and daughter and a link to a master emotional manipulator. Pain, confusion, fear and the capacity of the human spirit to survive and thrive and even take on the burden of other’s guilt. The dark high-charged subject matter is difficult to read at times. However, a cautionary tale to be mindful of those we bring into our children’s lives. Men can work their ways into a mother’s life to take advantage of the daughter. Also for those suffering from CSA and the devastating psychological effects of a lifetime. Deep shadows everywhere. While reading AGE OF CONSENT, I was also listening to Hollie Overton’s Baby Doll. Both books have predators of young girls (I was hoping someone would kill them both). For victims, the effects of child sexual abuse can be devastating. Victims may feel significant distress and display a wide range of psychological symptoms, both short-and long-term. They may feel powerless, ashamed, and distrustful of others. Guilt, shame, and blame. As in the book, many perpetrators of sexual abuse are in a position of trust, or responsible for the child’s care, such as a family member, teacher, clergy member, or coach. The author delivers a realistic view; the heartbreaking emotions from both daughter, mother, and a manipulative narcissist pervert. You will want to scream at the mother to open her eyes. Overall, the author captures the intense emotions and fear, keeping readers page-turning to the very end. For fans of Chevy Stevens, Karin Slaughter, Heather Gudenkauf, Diane Chamberlain, T. Greenwood, and Jodi Picoult.
“A nuanced portrayal of a mother and daughter at once linked and divided by a ferociously exploitative man….Treating June’s perspective as richly as Bobbie’s, the novel brings memorable depth to issues often oversimplified; Leimbach’s scenes are convincing, whether they portray harrowing abuse or subtle moments of healing.” —Publishers Weekly
“An account of estrangement between mother and daughter and the toll abuse can take on a family. Told partly through flashback and partly through court testimony, this unhappy tale is woven with pain and fractured relationships….The story will keep readers turning pages until the bitter end….Fans of Jodi Picoult may enjoy.” —Library Journal
“Leimbach is known for tackling tough subjects in an unflinching manner, and this novel is no exception. Bobbie’s story is often difficult to read, but the descriptions of abuse don’t come across as gratuitous or overdone. The alternating chapters, told from June’s perspective, show how insidious predators can be—her denial of the truth continues even when she is directly confronted with the facts. Readers who enjoy issue-driven women’s fiction—and who can handle the dark subject matter—will be moved by Bobbie’s story.” —Booklist, starred review
“[A] horribly believable depiction of a child ensnared by a predator. In giving a voice to Bobbie’s mother as well as Bobbie, she foregoes the urge to simply blame a woman who failed to protect her daughter. . . Devastatingly powerful.” —Kirkus Reviews
“What makes Marti Leimbach’s new novel so chilling is not only its tale of predator and prey, but the story of the mother and daughter, entangled in its web. It is so terrifying to see a mother in denial, a daughter who can’t and won’t forget. As Leimbach weaves her story, moving between past and present, this thrilling novel forces us to ask to whom do we owe our loyalties – to those we love, or to ourselves.” —Mary Morris, author of The Jazz Palace “Three people: a young girl, her mother, and the man who has seduced them both. Leimbach explores the ambiguities of loss, love, and desire, and plumbs the dark places where they meet. At the center of the story is an illicit, illegal affair, the consequences of which never really stop reverberating. Age of Consent is spellbinding.” —Whitney Otto, author of Eight Girls Taking Pictures and How to Make an American Quilt
About the Author
I began writing because I could not imagine any other profession. My mother, a journalist, was forever at the typewriter or on the phone, and I thought in the natural progression of things I would do the same.
In fact, I had every intention of being a journalist, perhaps an investigative reporter like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who famously exposed the Watergate scandal of 1973, when I was ten years old. As a freshman in college I took seriously (and loved) the “expository writing” class that all freshman were required to take. I went on to an “advanced” expository writing class and thought seriously about joining one of the newspapers on campus, but was a bit afraid of being turned down, so I never joined (probably a good thing).
Over time, I found my essays digressing more and more into what could loosely be called fiction. It was suggested to me I try taking a fiction writing course, so I applied for one under the direction of Mary Robison, who turned out to be exactly the kind of encouraging, smart teacher I needed (and whose work I admire hugely). Read More