Review of Leaving Eva by Jennifer Sivec

 Leaving Eva

4 stars, rated 16+ (Warning: this book depicts graphic scenes of child abuse)

I found it difficult to put down this dark slice-of-life story, not for the train wreck effect but because Sivec created truly sympathetic characters. The protagonist, named Eva at birth, was born to an immature teenage mother who later abandoned her on the side of the road. She was then unfortunately adopted by a sadistic alcoholic and his passive, needy wife. To deal with feelings of abandonment and betrayal, Eva (named Brynn by her adoptive mother) turns to self-harm. As an adult, Brynn is married to a devoted husband, owns a successful restaurant, and is generally respected by the community. But the demons inside threaten her livelihood, her marriage, and her sanity. She must face them head-on to get her life back on track. A long-buried secret gives her a long-awaited feeling of freedom and vindication.

Leaving Eva is told vignette-style and in almost childlike narration, reminiscent of The House on Mango Street. The author has created believe able, sympathetic characters. Even Brynn's brutal adoptive father is shown as battling his own demons. I believe that Sivec could probably benefit from dialing down the sappy, maudlin tone a notch or two, but overall I love how she created a female character who beats the odds and discovers she is entitled to happiness with people who love her and freedom from her abusers. A recommended read.

Jessica Wren

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