By Beth Fehlbaum
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Reading Level: 6th grade
Interest Level: 9th-12th grade
Awards: YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers (2011)
Teaser: Ashley is not just your typical teen. Dealing with PTSD is just one of her daily struggles. Will she be able to overcome the thing that she has been dreading the most?
Summary: Ashley is trying to find balance in her life. Now that she is away from her abusive father, she can get help for her PTSD. Although she does not really know her biological father very well, she finds herself beginning to hope again. Her time in Patience, Texas has given her a therapist to talk to, an opportunity to get to know her father’s side of the family, and some friends she made at school. There’s even a guy that likes her at school and she likes him back, but it is still hard for her to trust people because of what she went through. The reader finds out that not everything is going too smoothly because her trauma still causes her to hurt herself. When her stepfather finally goes to trial, Ashley finds out that her stepfather won’t get the justice that he deserves for what he did to her. Will she be able to cope or will this be the breaking point?
Information about the Author: On Fehlbaum’s website, her bio reads, “In addition to writing Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Beth Fehlbaum is a high school English-Language Arts teacher who frequently draws on her experience as an educator to write her books. She has a B.A. in English, Minor in Secondary Education, and an M.Ed. in Reading…Beth is a survivor of a traumatic childhood, like Ashley in The Patience Trilogy, and the day-to-day manager of an eating disorder much like Colby’s in Big Fat Disaster. These life experiences give her a unique perspective, and she writes her characters’ stories in a way meant to inspire hope.”
Critical Evaluation: Hope in Patience is written in a way that helps the reader identify with Ashley. The tone of Fehlbaum’s writing makes Ashley’s perception and character more authentic. Readers are able to sympathize with Ashley when seeing her struggle with her PTSD and her self-mutilation. The way that Fehlbaum writes Ashley’s anxious moments is very interesting. Most of the time, her uncontrollable attacks are separated in paragraph form. Fehlbaum brings the reader into the moment with Ashley as she battles against the anxiety, shame, and fear that rises up in her and causes her to harm herself. By doing this, the reader realizes that when Ashley has a flare up it consumes everything else which is why the majority of the time those moments are contained within their own paragraph. Fehlbaum’s personal background as a survivor is what makes the voice of Ashley so real. Knowing that the author also experienced many of the traumas that Ashley has suffered made the story more genuine.
Curriculum Ties: Health, Sexuality, Abuse Awareness, Psychology
Booktalk Ideas: Write a letter to Ashley about a time where something you really wanted turned out to be not what you expected.
Challenge Issues: Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Language
Challenge Resources: Rationale for choosing this book (see “Why Did I Pick This”), Engage students and parents in discussions about intellectual freedom, ALA Library Bill of Rights,Challenge Resources from the American Library Association
Why Did I Pick This: I picked this novel because I think that it is important for teens to be aware about problems that exist in the real world. I think a lot of teens do not realize how common sexual abuse, and self-mutilation is within their age group. This book can be a conversation starter or project starter about bringing awareness to young people about the realities of a survivor.
Fehlbaum, B. (2010). Hope in Patience. Lodi, NJ: WestSide Books.