NO ONE EVER ASKED
Three families. Two school districts. A dozen miles between them, but worlds apart.
When an impoverished Missouri school district loses its accreditation, the nearby affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open its doors to bussed students. Soon the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fund-raiser, faced with a rattling discovery that threatens to tear apart her picture-perfect world; Jen Covington, a career nurse whose painful journey to motherhood finally results in a happily-ever-after, though not the one she anticipated; and Anaya Jones, the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge's top elementary school, who is unprepared for the minefield she is stepping into. As tensions rise, Camille, Jen and Anaya will fiercely protect their loved ones -- but at what cost?
Inspired by real world events, No One Ever Asked is a riveting tale about the way we see one another, the lies we tell ourselves, the questions and stories that go unexplored, and the tragedies that result from our blindness.
Sometimes a book comes along that pretty much discombobulates my reviewing capabilities and No One Ever Asked is just such a book. Powerful. Compelling. Uncomfortable. Frustrating....and hopeful. But it's a hard read. My heart still hurts. My head is still spinning. And my emotions are all over the place. In short, I'm still rattled so this review will be too. Fair warning!
Ganshert tells the story from three points of view. Women who come from diverse backgrounds, each engaged in their own personal battles with some pretty heavy issues when a political decision unexpectedly throws them together.There's picture-perfect PTA mom Camille Gray who appears to have it all; Jen Covington, who has yearned to be a mother in the face of the impossible and now that she is, nothing is going as planned; and Anaya Jones, the first African-American teacher to be employed at Crystal Ridge's top elementary school. Their stories are real and raw and not always pretty.
Most everyone will agree that blatant racism is ugly but what Ganshert tackles in this impactful novel is the subtle nuances of racial tension that often go unnoticed -- even within ourselves. There are two big takeaways for me at this point, though I'm still mulling it over -- this is the kind of book that doesn't leave you even though you've reached 'the end' -- so I'm sure there'll be more.
The first thing that struck me was how each woman had a preconceived idea of who the others were and what their life was like -- both good and bad. And that coloured their impressions and reactions. I mean, seriously, how often have I done that in my own life? So sure that 'her' life was better than mine or 'she' didn't have any real challenges or I am so in awe of 'her' because she has it all together I could never measure up.
The second takeaway that I am digging deep into is so simple and yet it's not -- listen. Seriously -- do I actually hear with my whole being -- heart, mind and soul -- when someone is speaking about something important to them? Or am I so busy formulating a rebuttal that I haven't let their words seep into my being so I can truly empathize? Especially if what they are saying contradicts what I feel. Challenging stuff, right?
Oh -- and a third takeaway that just struck me now -- see I told you there would be more! Just because I don't understand somebody's story doesn't mean it isn't valid. If I limited my world view solely to my experiences, well, that would make for a pretty short-sighted view, wouldn't it? I need to trust other people's stories so that I can expand my understanding and open my heart to the kind of all-encompassing love talked about in the bible -- "Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear." (1 John 1:18)
Phew -- lots to ponder over at the conclusion of this read. Especially thankful for the no-holds-barred discussion questions the author has provided at the end of the book. No One Ever Asked would be my top pick for a book club selection this year!
If you would like a chance to win a copy of No One Ever Asked, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you add your email to your comment, remember to use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in order to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email, please add the title to the subject line so it's easy to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday July 15 2018. Offer open to International Readers.