Keeping Katerina - Simone Beaudelaire **3.5**

I had a hard time rating this one. I liked that this book had a purpose, and a very strong one at that: to educate people about domestic abuse. I also liked that it tied in the poetry of Robert Browning (written during the time this book takes place), which had the same purpose. I think an endeavor like this is commendable and overall she did a good job in communicating her message in a good story. With a few caveats.

After emphasizing again and again that it would take time (months, years, or possibly never) for Katerina to heal from the physical and emotional abuse of 19 years at the hands of her father, which felt realistic, that she then seemed to overcome her past fears, learn to trust and gain the courage to stand up for herself in a few weeks, seemed less so. She had a nice build up of what a person suffers in this type of situation and then it felt like she almost gave it away. The transformation happened too fast in my opinion.

The dialogue frequently felt a little stilted and unnatural and I think it was the combination of a few things. One, some conversations consisted of short one or two word responses back and forth. Two, the author often left out "he said" "she asked" and just wrote the dialogue itself with no pronouns or verbs. And three, the subject matter that was being discussed between the characters. For example:
"Do you want my hands on you?"
"Around my waist." She mouthed rather than spoke the words. He embraced her. He was wonderfully warm.
"Where would you like your hands to be?"
"Your neck."
"Do it then."

It sounds awkward to be instructed how to be sexual with someone in the first place and I don't think the dialogue was written to make it feel less so.

But these things didn't detract too much from my enjoyment of the book and the author created an engaging story while successfully conveying a message. Indeed, I think she even could have tried for a little more subtlety in the message and still conveyed her point clearly.