Burnt Edges: Dana Leipold
Laurel Page lived in a world that she created within her own mind. At times she totally disconnected from the realities that she endured in order to deal with the torture, abuse and hate that others inflicted upon her. Pain is one way that Laurel dealt with worry. Pinching the inside of her upper arm helped her to become ready for what her mother or father did to her or would do to her. Bruises on her arms, physical, sexual and verbal abuses her constant companions, Laurel needed to develop her own defense system in order to survive.
Laurel feared her father more than anyone else in her life. Like a tsunami ready to devastate an entire population or a 10.0 earthquake, her father’s behavior was so volatile you never knew when he’d explode. But, physical force was not the worse of it. Her father was never really in a good mood and when he was she never knew when the tide or the direction of the wind would change. Rusty her brother could never win any favor with him. Greg was the youngest and seemed the one that could almost say anything to his father and even help when work hammering and sawing had to be done. Rusty received his ridicule and innuendos were made about his birthright making him an outcast in his own home. Laurel had to do chores but she never received an allowance or any praise for helping around the house or doing the chores that her mother demanded of her. Never a thank you. Never a kind word and rarely a hug or a smile. But, her father often had other plans for her and when drunk and wanting more from Laurel, he would take advantage of her when no one was around. Not having anywhere to turn and no one to confide in, Laurel lived in fear of her father’s nightly visits. No young child should ever withstand the sexual abuse that this father inflicted upon her. The anger welled up inside of her but there was nowhere to release it. So, she harbored her anger within her, prayed he would leave her alone and tried to disengage herself from the incident by putting her mind somewhere else.
Living with her grandparents in the same home brought her some relieve as her grandfather would tell stories to her and her brothers but caused Laurel to lose her privacy and her own room. But, her grandmother was forgetful and the end result was the death of her dog Red. But, just when she thought he could rest her father paid her a visit and the nightmare continued, the fear in her eyes when he touched her and the pain she willed away. But, when she tells her mother about what her father has done her reaction will shock readers, alienate Laurel even more and then cast her aside like yesterday’s trash.
Scholl was part of her save haven as she and her friend Joan would talk about life, moving in to together when they both graduated High School. But, at ten years old her mother and grandmother packed all of her dresses and decided she needed clothes that were more grown up. Then something changed and her mother started treating her like an outcast and President Kennedy was shot and killed. Life was hard for Laurel and her parents were never really there for her or to help her understand the many changes she encountered. But, girls are wicked and one in particular had it in for Laurel and when she decided to defend herself why didn’t her mother realize that she needed her support? Every situation was about the mother, her need to feel above everyone else, not wanting to admit her own shortcomings and instead inflicting pain on Laurel.
Her family’s dynamics would change as her brother Rusty was drafted and sent to serve in Vietnam. Not wanting to go to the army his father insisted he serve his country and the end result would drastically change him and not for the good.
Laurel lived each day within her own shadow never really finding peace anywhere or even her own identity. But, when she and Joan finally moved into their own apartment and she began a new chapter in her life things changed. Getting a job in the mailroom in a big office in Los Angeles. Meeting new people and feeling her own self-worth should have changed her. But, in some respects Laurel remained afraid and unsure of herself. Leaving her wide open for another fall. Living with Joan was great and meeting her new boyfriend Dave would lead her to Larry. Larry and Dave were friends and Dave hoped they would hit it off. But, as you get to know Larry and hear the way he spoke to Laurel you will soon realize that he was not much different than her father or mother trying to control her every move, what she wore and even what she ate. At times you would think she would stand up for herself but Laurel remained silent of too complacent which allows readers to understand that even though she was on her own things did not really change. Being accepted for who she was never really happens at this point but Laurel just wants to feel loved. Larry remains steadfast and wants to marry her because he is about to go into the service. But, weddings are not planned in a day and things often change without any warning and Larry left hoping to return to Laurel while his mother and hers planned a wedding that her mother was unsure of. Face value and how things look to the public has been one of the things that Laurel’s mother needed. Never wanting to feel embarrassed and never sticking up for Laurel, she was not particularly happy with the fact she moved out and even less happy about the wedding. But, things would not pan out the way anyone expected as another young man comes into the picture and Laurel finds herself in a difficult situation that she does nothing to get out of. Loyalties change, faithfulness is discounted and Laurel and Paul who works in another part of her company seem to bond.
Relationships change, feelings are not as strong and temptation wins out as Laurel realizes that things are about to change. With a wedding not too far away a hidden surprise will change it all. What will happen when she reveals her relationship with Paul? What will her mother say? What happens when her father becomes ill and he has one last message for her? Will she forgive him or is it too late? What about her mother? What does she say to Laurel that might finally wake her up to who and what her mother really is and why some things remain the same?
Strong words are spoken and a truth comes out but someone cannot face it. A mother and daughter that will never repair the damage and a family that will never be one. What is Laurel’s final fate? What happens when Larry learns the truth about her relationship with Paul? How does her mother react to the fact that the big wedding is not going to happen? One young girl that grew up too fast. One mother that would not see the truth and unveil a deception that was right in front of her. Laurel and Paul or Laurel and Larry: Which one will keep her heart? What will happen if and when it is her turn to become a mother? Will history repeat itself? Will she be the same way to her child as her mother was to her? As her grandfather said” But God doesn’t give us more than we can handle He’ll put us through the fire a few times, so we get a little burnt around the edges, but all in all, we come out fine.
When Laurel realizes the truth and the final conflict comes about just that will have the Burnt Edges? A story told as if it were ripped out of the pages of a magazine or newspaper headline, Burnt Edges brings to light what happens when a father feels justified abusing his daughter and his sons and a mother turns a blind eye to it all. Heartfelt, conflicts that are real and true to life and characters that will remind you of how much schools, parents, teachers and guidance counselors need to be more aware of what abuse of any kind does to a young girl or any child, Burnt Edges is just the beginning of Laurel’s story. I can’t wait to find out what happens next when author Dana Leipold pens the next chapter in her life. Strength, Courage, Persistent and Hopeful: Laurel: What’s next?
Fran Lewis: Reviewer