Saturday, October 13, 2012

Out of the Darkness by Dolores Durando

From the author of Beyond The Bougainvillea Even in the darkest hours he sought the light of love.

That he survived was a miracle. That he found happiness, a victory.Meet Marty, a young boy born into a brutal family environment where not even a shred of dignity, hope and kindness can take root. Child protective services were a thing of the future in the 1950’s, and so there was little help for Marty or others like him. He endured almost unbelievable cruelty, both from his family and at the California institution where the state placed him.

But every dark side has its opposite. Marty is rescued by the love of Joe, an old man who refuses to give up on him. Marty goes to live with Joe’s wealthy friend, Benito, who owns a vineyard in the heart of the magical Napa Valley. Benito’s large, loving family includes Rosita, a shy girl whose beauty is marred by a cleft palate.Marty is soon absorbed into a wonderful new life; Rosita gives him unconditional love. His transformation is stunning. 

For more than twenty-five years author Dolores Durando worked in the mental health field, primarily as a Licensed Psychiatric Technician. Out of the Darkness is based on events she witnessed during an era when many large mental institutions were no better than prisons run with a brutal lack of enlightenment or compassion. Today, at 91, she is thankful to see the sweeping reforms in mental health and the positive results of publicity, education and modern technology. In addition to her writing, she is an award-winning sculptor and painter. Her previous title for Bell Bridge Books is Beyond the Bougainvillea, a historical based on the author’s experiences working among the diverse men and women who built the great California dams of the early 1900’s. 

Out of the Darkness is a heart-wrenching tale of a young boy named Marty in 1950’s America. This child was born into unfathomable and cruel abuse at the hands of his family. Only one man, a teacher named Joe, showed him any shred of kindness. And Marty came to love Joe with all his heart. Because of his own act of violence against his abuser, Marty is brought to an institution for the feeble minded. There, abuse runs rampant and there is no escaping the cruelty at the hands of those whose job it is to look after him. Only one man there is kind to Marty, and he comes to love this man as much as he loved Joe. As Marty comes of age, and it soon comes time to leave, Joe returns into Marty’s life and arranges for him to live with a Spanish family in the Napa Valley. There, Marty fines love and family as he grows into a man. 

I liked how this novel was set up. It begins with deep depravity and cruelty, and then page by page, things get slowly better, culminating into a satisfying and happy ending, like a roller coaster gaining momentum or a small snowflake rolling down hill until it becomes as large as a boulder. 

The author knows her material well, for she worked in similar institutions for most of her life. I was impressed at how she exposed the harsh realities. Each of the characters was fascinating and unique. Believable! Real! In your face kind of people! The length of the novel is short, so it’s a quick, easy read. The author ensures the reader will experience a realm of emotion. But be prepared for some pretty brutal and nasty scenes. I highly recommend this new novel by Dolores Durando. I had previously read and reviewed her previous novel, Beyond the Bougainvillea, which I similarly enjoyed.