8 December 2016

Review: Once Confronted by Lynne Stringer

Brisbane teen Madison Craig wanted to spend her gap year in Europe with her friends, but her parents were worried that was too dangerous. Instead, she’s living in Sydney with her hippy Aunt Myrtle, and working in a bookshop with the rather attractive Evan. It’s all a little boring … until Madison and Evan are robbed at gunpoint.

Madison returns to Brisbane afraid of almost everything, at the same time as trying to convince everyone around her that she’s okay. She enrols in a degree in social work, but worries that she’ll never get over her own problems enough to help other people. An older woman on her course suggests a way for Maddie to get past the attack, but she’s not convinced and Evan is dead against it.

Once Confronted is perhaps best described as a confronting read. It doesn’t gloss over the problems social workers face and provided me with a new insight into a hugely challenging job – not one I’d be good at, both because I don’t think I could handle hearing all the hard things, and because I’d want to tell the clients what to do.

(Apparently this is discouraged, as it’s replacing one form of control with another, and the clients need to be given the freedom to make decisions for themselves. Even bad decisions. While I can see the logic, I don’t think this is something I’d be good at!)

Anyway, Once Confronted was a challenging read, but also excellent. I felt it treated both the attack and Maddie’s resulting trauma and stress symptoms realistically, showing there are no quick or easy answers. It also illustrated that each person has different reactions … and that some are more positive and healing than others.

Once Confronted is written in first person point of view, all from Maddie’s viewpoint. I know some readers don’t like this viewpoint, but I felt it worked in this case as it made sure we really understood what was going on inside Maddie’s head. I think third person might have made Maddie seem too distant, which would have made her emotional journey less compelling.

I know this is a total cliché, but I’d really like a sequel!

Thanks to Rhiza Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Lynne Stringer at her website, and you can read the introduction to Once Confronted below: