Today and tomorrow I get to talk about a very talented lady and her amazing new book. I've known Kathie Giorgio for many years. She was the leader of the local Park and Rec writer's group when "Lies in Chance" was simply known as "The Stupid Novel." Today I'm reviewing her new novel, "Rise from the River" and tomorrow, Kathie answers my ten questions.
Kathie grew her talent and her business from that modest Park and Rec group and she is now the director and founder of AllWriter's Workplace and Workshop, a wonderful haven of learning for authors and poets at all levels of experience, both in Southeastern Wisconsin and across the globe. She is the author of four novels, and over one hundred of her short stories have appeared in literary magazines. In short, when it comes to writing, the girl knows her stuff!
Kathie and I haven't always seen eye to eye, and certainly when it comes to some of life's big issues, we have differing opinions. (That's been okay because if everyone agreed about everything all the time, what on earth would we talk about? ) That said, Kathie's never been one to shrink from the big issues or trying to make this a better world with her very powerful, and talented, pen.
Kathie's newest novel, Rise from the River takes several of today's biggest issues: Rape, abortion, religion, adoption, parental rights. Certainly one of these topics would be fodder for a compelling book, but Kathie puts all of them together with a masterful hand.
Rainey Milbright and her four-year-old daughter, Tish, are walking through a city park one night
when the unthinkable happens: A man jumps out of the darkness and rapes Rainey in full view of Tish. Already abandoned by her parents because of her choice to have Tish out of wedlock, Rainey's only support system is her Catholic neighbor and landlady, Doris.
With Doris' help, Rainey traverses the tangled, troubling web of medical, legal, and personal issues that become a way of life for rape victims. She must answer all manner of unthinkable questions at the hospital, the police station, her office, her daughter's school, and in her own home. All the layers of defense we put up for ourselves are stripped away from Rainey and she finds herself trapped and drowning in fear and isolation.
The fallout of the rape doesn't just affect Rainey. Doris, while helping Rainey and Tish claw their way back to normal, reflects on her own losses and heartbreak at the hands of a God she worships without question. Rainey's journey gives Doris reason to question her own faith, and her church.
At the heart of the novel is the pro-life/pro-choice question. Those of you who know me know I'm pro-life. Those who know Kathie would assume she would write a staunchly pro-choice novel. But Kathie takes the question of the sanctity of life, all life, to a new level when she touches on the parental rights of rapists and their victims. (This is a law in thirty-nine states. Rapists have parental rights if the person they rape becomes pregnant as a result of the rape. It becomes a bargaining chip for the rapist who does not want to stand trial against a victim who wants to give up the baby for adoption.)
This is not a wandering manifesto about women's rights. From the start Giorgio turns on an alarm clock that ticks a far-too-rapid pace to the end of the novel. There are many taught, whirlwind moments. Every chapter leaves the reader breathless.
In the end, this is an important book, and a rare one. "Rise from the River" doesn't just entertain. It doesn't just make the reader think about important issues. "Rise from the River" might be a book that has the power to change things for the better.
This is a book you must read.