Against My Will by Benjamin Berkely is the story of a woman who marries for all the wrong reasons and ultimately pays the price for it. It is also the story of a girl we meet through diary entries that take us back to the days of the holocaust. The women are related, their stories are powerful, and although many years apart in time their stories weave together in a way that brings them even closer together.
Danielle is a 29 year old Jewish woman who is well educated. She’s gone to law school, passed the bar exam, and intends to have a successful career. She still lives with her father who feels that she’s much too old to not be married already and decides to call in a matchmaker on the sly. Danielle arrives home one evening to find that her father has invited ‘the perfect man’ over to dinner. Danielle makes it clear to Jacob that she’s not interested in a relationship at all but because she does not want to disappoint her father she agrees to go out with him. The guy is a world class jerk but at every turn her father keeps telling her what a good catch he is, what a good job he has, etc. and Danielle feels pressured to continue to see him. Ultimately she is pressured into marrying him. They move into their new home and get on with married life only it’s not too long before Danielle realizes she married a very different man from the ‘perfect catch’ he’s supposed to be. She suffers emotional and physical abuse from him for six long months before she leaves him and runs away. In her new life she learns that love doesn’t mean being hurt and she learns that no woman should ever do anything against her will.
Danielle was quite well developed as a character and for the most part I liked her. I liked that she had a smart attitude and such but I was very disturbed that she let herself be pressured into the marriage at all. She disliked Jacob from the start. She hated his manners, didn’t think he was all that handsome, and definitely didn’t like the way he treated her. There were so many signs that this man was bad news. I can see when a woman falls madly in love with a guy and ends up in this kind of relationship but she didn’t even like Jacob, let alone love him. I think that Danielle had a low self esteem because of her weight and she also hated to disappoint her father. Maybe culture has a lot to do with it in terms of pleasing your parents. I love my dad to pieces but he couldn’t pressure me into marrying no matter how hard he tried. Anyhow it was interesting to read of Danielle’s struggles with abuse in modern times and her grandmother’s in the past for very different reasons.
I think this book deals with a very important topic – that being spousal abuse. It’s never ok to be emotionally or physically abused by anyone; your spouse included. Nobody has that right to violate your well being in such a way. I feel for the most part that this novel did a good job in portraying the struggles, despair, and hopelessness someone feels when they feel trapped in such a relationship as well as showing that there is hope and a life outside of that type of life. My one wish is that the dialog would have been better as in using I’m instead of I am all the time – that kind of thing. I’m not usually easily distracted by grammar but this did a bit. However it still did not take away from the important topic being handled in the novel and I think this book would be a good one to read for anyone experiencing any type of abuse whether in a marital relationship or not. Be forewarned though that there is disturbing subject matter in the book dealing with abuse and not everyone is able or wants to read material like that. I look forward to reading more books from this author especially if he continues to tackle issues such as abuse, etc. in his writing.
Against My Will by Benjamin Berkley is touring with Premier Virtual Author Book Tours so be sure to pop in and check out the other tour stops. You can find Benjamin Berkley on his website and you can purchase your own copy of Against My Will here in the US and here in Canada. Be sure to pop in next week when Benjamin will visit the blog with a guest post and a giveaway of his novel Against My Will!
Source: Review copy provided by the Author. No compensation was received for this review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.