Dawn Winchester is sure Dan didn’t mean to hurt their toddler son Noah…again. With the media swarming her on the courthouse steps, her husband in jail, her teenage daughter already in foster care, and a determined case worker and vigilant court appointed guardian fighting to “protect Noah,” Dawn doesn’t know where to turn.
Nobody cared last time Noah had an accident while in his father’s care…so why is everyone now set on destroying her family?
Dawn believes in loyalty. What kind of wife would she be if she didn’t stand by her husband?
But through the endless cycle of hearings, counseling sessions, and visitations, Dawn begins to fear she’s been fooling herself. What if she’d been wrong and put Noah in danger? What if this was all her fault?
During his mandatory anger management therapy, even Dan starts to wonder if he might not be the man he thought he was.
Dawn has already lost one child—possibly for good—and can’t bear the thought of losing Noah too. But with the pieces of her life shattered all around her, can she put it all back together? Or should she salvage what she can and build a different life, broken heart and all?
The bonds of marriage and parenthood are strong. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be broken…
Page Count: 262 Pages
Published: Limitless Publishing, September 2015
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Social Issues, Fiction, Psychology, Psychological Suspense
What’s It About?
“You stole my life. You hurt my kids. You stole my family. No more.”
Dawn, a Christian woman, made vows to her husband to never leave his side, no matter what. Those vows are tested when he is hauled off to jail, for a second time, on account of abusing their toddler son.
Dawn has to make a decision: To protect her son, or to save her marriage. This decision overwhelms her. Why does she have to choose? Don’t the case-workers, Judge, and the media understand that it was just an accident?
Wave to Papa, a psychological suspense, is told in multiple perspectives, from the mother and the father, maternal grandmother, judge, caseworkers, eldest daughter, and the eldest daughter’s foster mother, centralizing on toddler Noah.
Author Erin Lee works as both a therapist, and court-appointed special children’s advocate, giving her an advantage in writing a novel about child abuse, and the Department of Children, Youth, and Family. Within the novel are realistic-looking case documents, referring to Noah, giving this book a non-fiction feel. At times I had to remind myself that this was just a story.
We are first introduced to Dawn, and through media questions on the court house steps, we learn a lot about her back-story. I thought this was an excellent way to start the book, because it presented her background in an interesting, exciting way.
Each chapter changed into a new character’s perspective. We meet Dan, the father, and realize he never had a chance to be a good Dad, even if he wanted to be. Addicted to Oxycontin, growing up with an abusive father himself, and the cherry on top, explosive anger problems, all contributed to his poor treatment of his son, Noah.
“He wanted to be a good father, but he had no idea how to begin.”
I deduced that Dawn had problems with co-dependency, because only when the phone calls stopped, did she begin to break away from Dan. I think co-dependency is a common theme among domestic violence victims. Again, I had to remind myself that this story wasn’t real! The characters and their reactions were appropriate. I was really impressed with all of the characters, including the secondary, supporting characters. They were well-developed, and I was eager to read on to learn their individual takes/perspectives.
My favorite character was Rose, Dawn’s mother and the maternal grandmother to Noah. She was my favorite character because she made the hard decision to reach out to DCYF to get her grandson the help and protection that he deserved. This wasn’t an easy decision, as it strongly impacted her life afterward, but her grandson was worth it to her. I wish there were more women like Rose out there in the world.
My least favorite character was Dan. Not only because he abused his son, but because he was more worried with whether or not his jail commissary bank, (called a canteen fund in the novel), had money so he could buy himself snacks! Really?! He just didn’t get it, which was extremely frustrating.
My favorite scene in the novel, was when Dawn made a promise to her dying grandmother, to protect Noah. I felt, at that point, that Dawn really meant it.
I really enjoyed this novel because it offered a unique insight into child abuse, and the people who work hard to protect children like Noah, when the child’s own parents are incapable. The plot was enthralling, and suspenseful, with Noah hanging in the balance. The author has a superb writing style, with excellent characters that breathed life into the story.
I give the author a lot of respect for being able to do this tough, emotionally draining job, in real life. The world is a better place because of people like her.
***I received a copy of Wave To Papa, by the author, in exchange for a fair, honest, and thoughtful book review. This in no way swayed by opinion or rating.***
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About The Author
Erin Lee is a freelance writer and therapist living with her family in southern New Hampshire.
She’s published numerous magazine articles, particularly on the topic of mental illness. She is the author of “Crazy Like Me” from Savant Books and Publications and “Wave to Papa” by Limitless Publishing. Her other writing interests include poetry and journaling. She recently completed her master’s degree in psychology. She is currently writing book one of the “Lola, Party of Eight” series titled “Alters.”
In her spare time, she serves as an unpaid taxi cab driver for her children and rescue/therapy dog, Milo Muse. —Goodreads Author Bio
The author included book discussion questions at the end of the novel. I would like to answer some of those questions, but will leave out the ones that I think give too much information away. The answers and questions themselves may contain spoilers, so please scroll down if you want to avoid spoilers. Thank you!!
Book Discussion Questions
Question: Dan learned his “parenting skills” at the hands of his abusive father. Does this excuse his behavior toward Noah?
Answer: Dan certainly wasn’t given the tools he needed in life to be a good man, let alone a good father, but this doesn’t excuse his actions, especially when it comes to his child who he is supposed to love and protect.
Question: If Dan successfully completes anger management in prison, should he be allowed to reunite with Noah upon his release?
Answer: That depends on what a “successful completion in anger management” means. Does it mean he simply shows up every week, bringing his body but not much else to the group? Or does it mean that he actively participates in the group, making strides to control his temper? His inner thoughts were all I needed to hear to know that I personally do not think he should ever be allowed contact with his son again. —“A boy has to learn to be a man.” No, Dan… A boy doesn’t need a skull fracture, broken arm, and multiple scrapes and bruises, to be a “man”.
Question: Dawn was not even at home when Dan abused Noah enough to break his arm. Should she have been accused of neglect in this case?
Answer: Yes, because Dan had hurt Noah in the past, and she knew her husband had a difficult time controlling his temper. Leaving a defenseless child alone with an abusive adult is no different than leaving him alone in a lion’s cage. The state made the right decision to charge Dawn with neglect. She absolutely was neglectful, and shouldn’t have taken any chances at the expense of her child’s safety.
Question: Should foster parents, like Joanne, be able to adopt children when the biological parents are still in the picture?
Answer: Yes. Why should the children suffer by being circulated through multiple foster homes, changing schools and friends, because of the sins of their parents? If someone is willing and able to adopt the child, why not give them the stability that this would offer? I strongly believe that being a parent is a privilege, and not a right.