Hillari’s Head: Tim Stutler
There are many different kinds of handicaps that people race other than physical ones. Some are more powerful and debilitating than others. Life sometimes takes you to places you never expect and even puts you in situations that might change the direction of your life forever. Hillari was a young girl who spent her life being shunned, alone in her own thoughts and living with an oversized head and a face that was disfigured. Wearing a scarf to cover her nose and mouth when going outside, she hoped to hide what others might think is grotesque. But, not every disfigurement can be seen and some are more subtle or hidden away than others. Kristina Orris, is 26, Hillari’s sister and is living with her own private demons, nightmares and dreams about her sister and their life together. Home-schooled by her single father, taunted with a speech impediment that still even in the present requires that she does special exercises to enhance her daily speech, Kristina lives with her own guilt when it comes to her sister. Losing her father was dramatic remaining to deal with her sister not an option. Kristina is smart, hard working and moved to San Diego after her father’s death to pursue her own career and became a paralegal. But, some ghosts never fade and some nightmares will be constant reminders of things that you would rather forget. But, Hillari’s constant nightly visits, her visions of her father sporadically appear and hamper her daily life. Living her own live, wanting to become a lawyer she could no longer be tied to Hillari so at 18 she left her sister, her home and her past. But, escaping your past can never really happen as Kristina will learn but first let’s meet Judgment Day, Gideon “Duck” Ducker two different yet dynamic characters that play a major role in her life eight years later. Living where she does she manages to meet several people who enjoy biking and one turns out to be an ex-judge now private mediator who takes her under wing in more ways than one. Almost like an older sister, Judge Monday gears her in the right direction when introducing her to Gideon Ducker who hires her on the spot to be his paralegal. Duck as everyone calls him might not be the handsomest man in time, maybe the homeliest but something draws her to him and their relationship flourishes in many ways. Duck’s firm is handling two high profile cases and as the author brilliantly takes us into the courtroom and we hear both sides of the cases, listen to the lawyer’s arguments and learn just how astute and observant Kristina is we realize that he uses his background as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Lawyer and Judge to bring to light the facts in these two very compelling and interesting cases. One involving sexual harassment and another is claiming discrimination due to a disability. But, there is so much more to this story as we get to know Kristina. When Duck asks her to accompany a doctor to an event she winds up with more than she expects. Makeover, new look, dress and new hairdo she barely recognizes herself in the mirror. Remembering her old look and her great firm figure from biking so often Kristina is more than just gorgeous.
Secrets can haunt you and sometimes truths come out when you least expect them to as she has created a blog about Hillari for others to read and when she shares her blog with Duck her startling past comes through and all of the harbored guilt, fears and secrets about Hillari come bursting through. Just how he reacts you have to read for yourself and what happens between them will definitely endear you to Duck even more. Her career in gear her life on the right track but one night out brings it all into focus and the end result, her revelation could change it all.
Who is Hillari? Is she really dead? Why did Kristina forsake her father, what he did for her and hide from who she really is and was? Disabilities can often make us ashamed of ourselves. Many shun, bully, tease, mock and insult those that are different. People often have their own set rules as to what someone or anyone should look like. Many accept people for who they are inside but most unfortunately judge books by their covers or people by their outer coverings.
Office gossip, cruel statements, standing her ground and working to make sure that their cases are won and nothing gets in the way, Kristina comes to grips with her past in a unique way.
One trial that would prove just what kind of lawyer Ducker is and one that would change the course of many lives. With the help of technology, some quick thinking and Kristina’s ingenuity, lies, betrayals, fraud and cover-ups were revealed but just who created them and who was behind them you won’t believe. One law firm, USAO being sued for millions and several guilty of so many things. But, who is telling the truth? Who is using their power?
But, before all is said and done and the final deposition is taken something happens that will change the dynamics of everyone’s lives. One man’s hate, one man’s greed will change everything and one woman will have to decide where to go next. An ending so explosive, powerful and heartbreaking you just won’t see it coming. What will the final outcome be for Ducker and Kristina? What does she reveal to him about her past? With the bond that she formed with the Judge and the bikers will she be able to see the next crisis through? Before she is able to move on and go to law school what does Kristina still have to do? Hillari’s Head: This is a book about understanding, acceptance, love, faith, hope and dealing with the past and what has passed before moving into the present and embracing the future. Kristina is a strong character and it would be great if the author brought her back again to prove that she is more than just Hillari’s Head. With characters that are true to life and situations that can really happen this book brings to light what happens when one man will not give up until justice is pronounced and that appearances mean nothing it’s what is on the inside that matters. One man who might not be the handsomest on the outside but he was an Adonis on the inside. One girl who needed to remember the past, cope with her loses and embrace who she is. One Judge who learned a lot from one talk with Kristina and several attorneys who learned that the truth will set you free even if the consequences don’t. This is one novel that even young adults can read to understand how to deal with people with disabilities and a great book for guidance counselors, teachers and even parents to use to help kids that are different or that have disabilities know that they can rise above and succeed.
Fran Lewis: reviewer
Let’s give this book: Five Gold Cups of Herbal Tea