Melanie didn’t have a normal childhood growing up. Her mother was never around who treated her like an obligation rather than child and she was never allowed to be involved in anything school related. She has no idea about the tragic past her mother lived and I would bet you everything would’ve worked out differently if Melanie had known. This dysfunctional lifestyle has lasted until just about her senior year when she meets a boy, named Robert, who helps her get a job and make a life for herself. Path of the Child by Sojourner McConnell is a compelling coming of age tale that unveils the deep wounds that untreated mental disorders fester.

The Overview:
First we have the main character, Melanie Easton, whose mother, Katherine, always kept at arm’s length away. From Melanie’s perspective she has only been able to rely on herself. Her mother, who often disappeared for days on end, only provided for Melanie because she had to. Melanie is a self-taught lover of books and came to view school as a safe haven. She never missed a day and, unlike her mother, enjoys work and going to school. She grows a lot from her friendship with Robert, a fellow classmate who helps her find her first job. He is the one who helps her find her Grandfather and Aunt who she didn’t knew existed because her mother never talked about them.

What Melanie and her family don’t understand is what actually happened to Katherine. She had emotional problems that the family didn’t notice or never knew how to deal with. She blamed herself for the death of her mother because she thought her father did as well. The negative things she would tell herself furthered her spiral into a dark and lonely life. In school everyone gossiped about her which didn’t help her mental status. When she was seventeen she was raped and I’m guessing that’s when Melanie came about. Katherine left her home behind and went off on her own. She never talked about them again and she never got the help she needed.

The Critique:
The beginning of the story does a lot of telling rather than showing in order to give us a basis for where Melanie is in her life. I would’ve been more compelled by Melanie’s inner dialogue if I had experienced with her some of the things her mother did when she was younger. We see a little bit of that relationship, but there’s definitely more telling than showing this relationship.

Another problem I found was with Robert’s character development. While we’re told that Katherine is self centered and only cared about herself, we actually see this in Melanie at times with her relationship with Robert. Even though Robert has problems he’s dealing with himself, everything is about Melanie. He is always telling her that he is there for her, but she never seemed to reciprocate. She would cook meals for Robert and her dad instead to show her gratitude, which is all fine and dandy, but it seems Robert had more to deal with. Melanie forgot to ask Robert how her decisions would impact him and this didn’t seem to bother Robert at all, which isn’t believable. This makes me think he is either losing himself in her or he’s just more interested in her than she is in him. Either way, this is a sign that the relationship isn’t going to last.

Luckily, the relationship isn’t the main part of the story. The main focus of the story is Melanie finding her family and discovering what it’s like to be cared for. I wonder, though, how she would feel if she knew what her mother had gone through? But in the end, it didn’t matter. Her mother had gone too long with such hatred inside her and it ruins the relationship between mother and daughter. Which is devastating to me. This is a very tragic story and honestly I wasn’t’ prepared for what happened near the end. I wish I could’ve seen Robert’s character developed a little bit more as he is introduced at the very beginning, but overall it was a great read and I enjoyed watching how Melanie bravely faced tough situations that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Star Rating Report Card:

3.86 Stars out of 5
1) Were the characters believable?
★★ – 2 stars
2) Did you like the characters?
★★★★ – 4 stars
3) Does the story move at a good pace?
★★★★ – 4 stars
4) Are there holes in the plot?
★★★★ – 4 stars
5) Is there conflict?
★★★★★ – 5 stars
6) Is the point-of-view consistent?
★★★★★ – 5 stars
7) Did you enjoy the story overall?
★★★ – 3 stars

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