I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Blessing Douglas.
‘Of Love and Bruises’ is the coming of age story of a young girl Belema, who is initially raised by her grand-parents but eventually moves on to live with her father in the city at around age 9. Belema is excited to finally live a somewhat normal life like all the other children who live with their parents or at least one of them but is shocked to realize that her new reality is a far cry from her expectations. This is a story about child abuse (both physical and emotional), the effects it has on children even in adulthood, mental health issues and healing.
This book brought out a lot of feelings in me. I know anger and sadness where at the forefront but there were also a whole lot of others. I am glad that with the help of literature, we as a society are beginning to speak out and speak up about a whole lot of things that are seen as normal especially the issue of parents physically abusing their children in the name of discipline. I could relate to this story because it is common practice in this part of the world to physically abuse your children without considering the adverse effects this has and would have on the children when they become adults. Research shows that adults who were abused in childhood are most likely to abuse their children or even other children so this is a vicious cycle that needs to stop. The author has told this gruesome story with the hope that parents and caregivers alike will understand the effects physical abuse has on children, how it affects their mental health and how this does more harm than good defeating the purpose they believe it is supposed to serve. The only issue I can say I had with this book is the fact that it was shorter than I hoped it would be because I wanted more. I was hoping that Belema (the protagonist) would have shared her experiences as a young adult to give us a bigger picture and I also wanted more information on how her cousin Ibinabo got on with her life as well.
Nevertheless, this was such an engaging and interesting read and I highly recommend it to everyone especially parents who believe that everything a child does must be corrected with a cane. However, I must warn you that some of the scenes are quite graphic so if you are triggered by extreme physical abuse, you may want to approach this book with caution.
Rating: 4 Stars
Published: 2021 by Fulton Books
Blessing Douglas lives in Wheaton, Maryland. She had spent most of her life in Nigeria, her home country, but moved to the United States for graduate studies and career advancement. When she’s not journaling her experiences, you might find Blessing Douglas volunteering at refugee camps, participating in mental health advocacy, which is one of her
passions, or hosting leadership workshops for youths in her local community. During her years of volunteering in college, Blessing Douglas found herself increasingly obsessed with the stories of people in the communities she served. Stories of domestic violence, child abuse, and mental illness, coupled with some of her personal experience, inspired her to work on the novel swimming around her head. Blessing hopes that her novel will provoke conversations about discipline and abuse where parents and caregivers cross the line, the
psychological long-term effect on children’s mental health as they grow into adulthood, a new orientation, and an awakening to learn, do better, and break the cycle of dysfunction.
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