Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: Against My Will by Benjamin Berkley

Against My Will
by Benjamin Berkley
Release Date: September 1st, 2012
2012 Frederick Fell
Softcover Edition; 247 Pages
ISBN: 978-0883912799
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary
Source: Review copy from Premier Virtual Author Book Tours

3.5 / 5 Stars

Rose is a young girl and has just been liberated from a Nazi death camp. As she is convalescing in the hospital, a nurse hands her a journal and suggests that she records her experience before she forgets. Rose says that she will "never forget." 70 years later, her grand -daughter Danielle discovers the journal entries. Danielle is struggling in an abusive relationship. And the two lives intersect. This is the story of survival, self- discovery, justice, and ultimately about love.

My Thoughts
Against my Will is one of those novels where I was really unsure what to expect from the story.  First of all, you have a male writer writing from a woman's point of view on a subject that can be quite touchy and controversial.  I do have to give Mr. Berkley kudos for bringing up a subject that is not talked about very much, with as much understanding and compassion as he does, as it could have so easily gone the other way, into the preaching route that some of these novels tend to go and which are so off-putting.

Danielle was an interesting character and certainly had the most depth depth of any of them, although I do have to admit that most of the characters were somewhat one dimensional and showed very little growth or development.  She did drive me somewhat crazy at the beginning of the novel as her naivety kind of went a bit far; there is nothing wrong with being sheltered and being naive, but to go through law school and really have no experience with the world?  It just seemed a bit too much for a modern woman and for her to backtrack so easily and to give in to both Jacob and her father's whims without a murmur just didn't seem in character.  It just felt like the author couldn't decide on her personality and character traits and changed them as the story went along which made it somewhat disconcerting.  As for Jacob and her father, I really felt those characters could have been fleshed out a bit more in order to help explain Danielle's acquiescence and behaviour.  I didn't really care for either of those characters though, as they were both somewhat selfish in their different ways.

I did enjoy Rose's diary entries but I like anything to do with the Holocaust and that time period.  I can only think that they were included to help show the difficulty that one must face in life and how one can overcome it if they wished to; it's the only parallel I could really see between Rose and Danielle's life as really, Danielle made the choices in her life while Rose's captivity in a concentration camp was not of her doing.  I do feel the book covers an important theme, one that is not often discussed, and I thought that was done rather well.  I just wished the rest of the story was fleshed out a bit more as I did find the beginning to be a bit weak, and I did grow frustrated with Danielle as well as Jacob and his treatment of women.  The "one big scene" did send shivers up my spine and I definitely rooted for Danielle as thoughts of a 'knife' went through her mind and I was glad she was able to flee.  It's never easy reading a scene like that and the author handled it with sensitivity. 

Against My Will is one of those books over which I have conflicting emotions.  One the one hand, I think the themes of the novel are important and needs to be put out there, yet at the same time, I thought the writing was sometimes weak, and the characters were not very well fleshed out or developed, except for Danielle.   I liked the grandmother's story and wished there was more of it to be had, woven a bit more expertly throughout the story, showing a greater link between the two women. Again, the novel does send a powerful message, and for that reason, I do recommend it to anyone who is interested in a character who can rise above adversity and find the strength and courage to live life fully.    



  1. Thanks so much for taking part in the tour and for your review!

  2. Thanks, Teena, for leaving your link so people can see a different point of view than mine. For me, it wasn't about the storyline as it was definitely interesting and powerful, but it was the writing style that didn't allow me to make that connection to the characters that is necessary in a book like this. I always encourage readers to read the book and make up their own minds about it as I always do. I don't usually allow reviews to decide the fate of a book for me.

  3. Definitely not easy to write about, and when you add in that it's a guy writing a female protagonist like that... it makes it harder.

    Good review.

    1. I agree. I was amazed when I found out it was a man writing from a woman's perspective. Gutsy and quite difficult, I would imagine.

  4. Thanks for the review! Enjoyed it!