The following review by senior reviewer Diane Donovan just appeared in the November issue of MBR Bookwatch:
It’s rare that the title of a book proves original and compelling in and of itself, but Katie, Bar the Door is such a creation. It will appeal to readers of modern women’s fiction with its astute story of Katie Thompson, a first-person story which captives not only by its title, but in its first few lines: “I felt as though I were being driven to a sentencing, not my wedding.”
Katie harbors big dreams for her future which do not embrace the conventional paths others around her believe she should follow.
In the opening lines of her story, she and Ritchie have eloped, and are to be married without benefit of ceremony. The couple has known each other since childhood. Forbidden from embarking on this relationship by a strict mother who caught them necking, Katie’s taken the step into sexuality, and is the driving force behind insisting that they now marry.
The reason, however, isn’t for love. It’s because of lack of options: “Even if I got to a phone and reached my mother, I wasn’t sure she’d take me back. She had forbidden my relationship with Ritchie over a year ago after she caught us necking and told me that, in God’s eyes, I was as guilty as if I’d slept with him. Defying her low opinion of me, I had clung stubbornly to my virginity until we ran away, surrendering it then only because of the promise that I’d be Mrs. Richard Pelletier in the morning – and because Ritchie’s rage at being asked to wait one more day was too menacing to defy. Now that the deed was done, according to the stringent doctrines of my mother and my church, my only chance to redeem myself was to marry the partner of my lust.”
As Katie faces domestic violence, being a runaway from her family and faith, and reviews dead-end roads and future options, readers journey alongside her as she faces a series of men who become bosses, lovers, and potential protectors, unified in their desire to control her in some way.
Even her professor, Dr. Peter Taylor, becomes entangled in Katie’s life and dreams as she moves from a history student in his class to something more.
Katie rewrote a history paper when she realized that her facts and sources were outdated. Can she rewrite her life?
Ruth Hull Chatlien crafts a vivid story of abuse, growth, repression, and changing perceptions and attitudes as she documents a young woman’s journey to self-empowerment and self-realization.
As the story moves full circle to embrace the relationships between mother and daughter and generations of belief, readers receive an engrossing examination of how past memories and experiences transform into future changes and new possibilities.
Katie, Bar the Door takes no simple paths in exploring these revelations. It provides many twists and surprises that will delight readers interested in a moving story of a young woman’s dreams, misconceptions, and growth. It will appeal to those interested in emotional trauma, recovery, and transformation, as well as in evocative women’s fictional writings.
You can order it here.