Below is my latest review from firsttoread.com of an ARC I feel, yet again, blessed to have been given the chance to read and review.
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Land of Enchantment by Leigh Stein
Review by Tori Harned
My love for nonfiction is passionate and recent, opening my eyes to a whole new genre I never anticipated having a desire to explore. Just four or five months ago, I wouldn’t have been interested in reading and reviewing nonfiction work no matter how beautiful the description on the back of the book, but a course I took in the spring nudged me out of my comfort zone and straight into the creative nonfiction world, where I feel I’ve been thriving ever since.
This book kept that passion ignited with every word, and, remarkably, has taught me a lot about the kind of writer I hope to be, no matter the genre. Leigh Stein is a storyteller like no other, and her words feel natural as they move you and instill in you deeper thoughts. The story of a young, abused woman hooked on a man she knows is bad for her, and the long, psychological journey of getting out and moving on would be an inspiring and touching story for anyone to tell, but Stein will make you feel something others won’t: that you know exactly what it’s like because now you’ve lived it.
Several strategies go into making this story the best it can be, but one of the most obviously successful ones is Stein’s ability to self-implicate. A story such as this can be easy to write when the abused paints themselves off as innocent and the clear hero, while bombarding the reader with scenes packed with the devilish tendencies of the abuser. Stein, however, is much better than this, and instead reveals the good and the bad in both her and her boyfriend, Jason, and never states outright who the audience should feel more for. In this way, the reader can feel comfortable to make their own decisions about the characters because they’ve been given a reliable and complete depiction of who both of these people truly are; the hero has not been glorified and the villain has not been demonized (or mythologized, for that matter, because of his passing away).
This book has absolutely set my world on fire (in a good way, of course) and my love for this genre grows every day because of stories and authors like this one. Stein’s ability to boldly take on her own story and making a point to always say the hardest things as opposed to taking the easy way out, is the mark of a genuine person all readers will be pleased to feel they know personally. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone, and I know that it will lead me to read more of her work.