I recently learned about Trials of the Heart when I spoke with LaRita S Smith, who wrote and self published this book. Reading it, I found the book meaningful and impactful. It reads easily and quickly and tells a story that is all too real, and sad. As I read the book, it brought to mind a current exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum, Women Hold Up Half the Sky , which is Co-Presented by Illinois Holocaust Museum and YWCA Evanston/North Shore The exhibition website states: “It is inspired by the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppressioninto Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Pulitzer-prize winning authors, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Like the bestselling book, the exhibition features ordinary women who have accomplished extraordinary things. It challenges visitors to open their eyes, minds, hearts, and most of all, to take action to improve women and girls’ lives locally and worldwide.” (Splash Review)
One part of the exhibition tells about mistreatment of young women in Chicago and this was shocking to me. The YWCA Evanston/North Shore and several agencies in Chicago deal with preventing sexual abuse and other abuse issues. The protagonist, Shana Barlow, in LaRita S. Smith’s story might have found support she needed from one of these organizations.
LaRita Smith was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. She began writing poetry, short stories, and plays at the age of ten years old. This is her third book and first novel. As a reader, I felt drawn into Shana’s life. I think that this book would be very appropriate for younger readers, especially disadvantaged youngsters. I think it would be an excellent opening for the discussion of some very difficult topics that young people face moving toward adulthood.
Briefly, Trials of the Heart is Shana Barlow’s story. She is consumed by confusion and misery continually. This is a coming of age story in which we get a glimpse of the painful affects that child-on-child molestation causes. It also deals with the all-too-common neglectful responses of adults.
All too often the topic of sexual molestation is swept under the rug and young children are made to feel ashamed for being victimized. Not discussing it, does not take away the fact that it has happened.
In order for the victims to fully work through the issues caused by their ordeal, they need to know that it is okay to talk about it. More importantly they need to believe that what has happened to them is not their fault.
Trials of the Heart is the coming of age story of Shana Barlow. In this fiction novel, we get a glimpse of the painful affects that child-on-child molestation causes. It also deals with the all-too-common neglectful responses of adults.
LaRita S. Smith also wrote the award-winning production of Tossing Stones, which was performed in Atlanta.
The award winning production of Tossing Stones
LaRita would like to improve the lives of individuals living in poverty, where life is difficult and often feels hopeless. She is creating short for educational purposes in an attempt to open discussions about how to manage social situations that are problematic, including bullying, sexual identity and more. And there is more. in 2015 I founded a Non Profit called 3W Squared Theatre Productions which will provide community theater to areas that don't have access to the arts, as well as the intentions of implementing an at-risk youth creative arts program. Teaching children from grades 5th -12th creative writing/playwriting, poety/spoken word, singing/acting, drawing/painting.
You can purchase Trials of the Heart here.
Photos: Courtesy of LaRita S. Smith