Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Review: “Against My Will” by Benjamin Berkley

Against My Will by Benjamin Berkley
Published: September 1, 2012
ISBN-10: 0883912791
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Virtual Author Book Tours

Summary (from the back of the book): 
Danielle Landau knows she should feel lucky, but she can’t feel anything but dread.  Not only did she pass the New York Bar, but she married the man her father says is just right for her and lives in a fashionable new loft in Queens.  But the man who seems like the perfect catch is a perfect nightmare at home.  Jacob tries to control her career, her daily routine, and even what she eats.  He ignores her desires and belittles her every chance he gets.  Soon, Danielle doesn’t recognize her husband or herself, and she struggles to find a way out.

One night, Jacob pushes her too far, and now Danielle has to escape.  With the help of her beloved Nana, Danielle moves across the country and starts to rebuild her life.  But will she be able to escape her past?  And when one of her clients finds herself in the same terrible situation, will Danielle have the strength to help her?

As we follow Danielle on her journey of terror and recovery, we see her story intersect with the diary entries of a young girl from more than fifty years ago, and the full weight of the family’s secrets becomes clear.  This is a story of survival, self-discovery, justice, and ultimately, it’s about love.

Thoughts on the content (4.0/5.0):
The subject of marital rape is a serious one, and I applaud Berkley for taking it on.   My guess is that Danielle’s story is fairly typical of such cases, but this one kept me interested to see how she would emerge at the end of the book.  Berkley doesn’t back away from the subject, or even handle it softly.  Instead he presents the realities of the horror of marital rape and the scars it leaves on its victims.
I also found the subplot about the holocaust to be interesting, and heart-breaking.  It was interesting that Berkley took these two issues and tied them together.

Thoughts on the style (3.0/5.0).
I would not consider Berkley’s style to be exactly “literary,” but rather conversational.  Indeed, there is more dialogue in this book than you would find in most.  While there is nothing wrong with that, I know that some readers may not like it.  However, the dialogue is relatively well-written and conversational. 

My thoughts (2.0/5.0):
My thoughts on this book can be best summed like this: I thought this was a good rough draft of a novel.  While I enjoyed the plot, I really felt that this book needed more work.  Danielle’s experiences and the holocaust storylines were every fully or effectively intertwined. There are a number of diary entries from the holocaust at the beginning of the book, and then they just disappeared.

I also felt that the character developments could have been improved. Danielle is the most developed character, but I could still never really figure out why she would agree to marry Jacob and then continue to stay with him. Jacob, on the other hand, was so repulsive from his first appearance that I couldn’t figure out why Danielle would even give him a second glance, despite what her father thought.

There were also some glaring inconsistencies and errors in this book. For example, in one section the 23rd Psalm is referred to as the 29th Psalm. Had it been any other psalm, I think most people wouldn’t notice it. However, the 23rd Psalm is the most well-known of the psalms and I believe anyone would have picked that one out. Another example occurs later in the book. Danielle says that she’ll receive her bar results the Friday before Thanksgiving. She receives her results, a noticeable amount of time (and pages past) and then it is Thanksgiving. I had to go back in the pages to make sure I read it correctly.

Finally, and this is not really a fault of the author or the story, but there were glaring type-setting and formatting errors on the pages of the book. As a reader I found it very distracting to have to wade through all that.

I really feel that, with some re-writing and a fair amount of editing, Against My Will, could be a very successful novel. As it is now, however, it feels unfinished.


This review is part of a blog tour by Virtual Author Book Tours. I received a copy of the book to read and review. I received no other compensation and all opinions are mine, and mine alone.

For more opinions about this book, check out the other blogs on the tour (Links go to the blog, not the specific review:

October 1 – Rainy Days and Mondays
October 2 – Two Children and a Migraine
October 3 – Freda’s Voice
October 4 – My Life
October 8 – WV Stitcher
October 9 – Books & More Books
October 10 – Sia Mckye Over Coffee
October 11 – Mom in Love with Fiction
October 12 – BassGiraffe’s Thoughts
October 15 – From L.A. to LA
October 16 – My Devotional Thoughts
October 18 – Butterfly-o-Meter Books
October 18 – MDeniseC
October 25 – Broken Teepee
October 26 – Peeking Between the Pages
October 29 – A Book Lover’s Library
October 30 – Turning the Pages
October 31 – MN Girl in LA

Affiliate Link: Purchase this book at Amazon.