Joshua Godwin has always been perceived as the consummate family man, the proverbial “pillar of his community,” a devout Mormon who overcame the lies and treachery of his first wife as well as painful, unfounded accusations by several of his daughters. When his adult granddaughter Robyn and her husband George come home early from the theater one night, however, they discover Joshua in what appears to be a compromising position with their young daughter, Debbie. Robyn is unsure of exactly what she saw, but her mother, Joanne, does her best to convince Robyn that Joshua would never do anything to hurt a child. As Robyn tries to decide whether or not to file a complaint against her grandfather, she continues asking questions that begin to open old wounds in the Godwin family.
As the story moves back and forth between the past and present, Joshua’s true nature begins to be revealed. After finding out his first wife, Dianne, is part Mexican, Joshua ends their marriage and does his best to cut off her contact with their six children—five daughters and one son. When two of his daughters, Karianne and Darlene, openly accuse him of molesting then, it causes an enormous rift in the family. As the two move on, determined to piece together their shattered lives, Joshua remarries and continues living without any repercussions for his actions. It is only when Robyn begins searching for the truth and travels to reunite with the estranged members of her family that the painful truth will be revealed in its entirety.
What a troubling book “Robyn” must have been for the author Glen R. Stott to write. The evils of abuse against children bring all who are touched by them into the seven circles of hell. To delve into the topic wholly, as is done here, must have settled great levels of anguish on the author as he worked to get things right. Still, from the very beginning of this novel, Mr. Stott does not hesitate to get to the bone of the tragedy sexual abuse is to all involved with it. The opening scene of parents George and Robyn coming home to Robyn’s enfeebled grandfather possibly involved in terrible behavior with their daughter, Debbie, sets big things in motion without squeamishness. It is an important choice by the author: to have squinted, or tried to gloss over or cover in obscurity any of the passage, would have set a tone that may have hampered the real world feel necessary to the telling of such things. And with that perhaps a great deal of impact may have been sacrificed. With such an important issue at hand, this would have been a tragedy. Another blessing Stott bestows upon the reader is to not immediately villainize anyone. There are questions open ended, that make everything more compelling, and horrible.
Mr. Stott has chosen not to focus the novel on one person’s story. This nearly overwhelming, the sense of the nature of the crime of abuse engendered by so much. It was tough to take. But this is real; we must feel it completely. There are also different writing techniques used to get this story out. I was thrown a bit at first but in the end, it felt just about necessary to have some things brought forth in more floating, detached ways; it allowed me to ingest what was being said as if the troubled individual was in a room with me, saddened and afraid and angry, the way they really would be. The story of Robyn and the grandfather and the family has layers hidden beneath secrets, underneath lies. Motives are suspect and the peeling away that takes place with “Robyn” the book, is masterfully done. What in life is ever, immediately, cut and dry on the plate of our day? Life’s years are soul searching expeditions. We are often tricked, both accidentally and on purpose, by those we love the most. And who can you love? And who can, or should you forgive? Within the context of the powerful work, Glen R. Stott manages to explore all of these most important quagmires. The lock such depths of examination clasp upon the sensibilities of those who travel through what is written here will not leave anyone soon.
The Church of Latter Day Saints is brought into the picture also. The actions of those in authoritative positions within that body are brought into question, but I do not think absolutely condemned. To have done so would be a mistake. The human animal, in and out of religion, is fallible. The great crime really, is to repeat the same mistakes, to never adhere to any correctives. If you are searching for right, and fail, but try again, perhaps you are worthy of commendation. Every reader of this book must make up their own mind. The thread of the story involving Jo and her sisters left me astonished; it is so well done, with all its intricacies, all its fraught tensions carved out perfectly. I believe Mr. Stott, as an artist, has no fear. He went deep here, cutting open a terrible, hard subject. Winding down all the avenues, he not only shone light on truth, he gave us a story worth telling, worth knowing, and helped us learn.
By F.T. Donereau for Rebecca’s Reads
Robyn by Glen R. Stott, author of Dead Angels and Timpanogos, is the harrowing tale of sexual abuse in a Mormon family. Skipping between past and the present, it is an epic tale about how sexual abuse has affected people over generations, while the perpetrator has gotten away with it for so many years. Robyn acts as a kind of detective of her family, trying to uncover the awful truth about her grandfather, Joshua Godwin. Eventually, the full truth may be revealed.
At first I was left wondering why this book was written. Why the author, as a man with no personal experience with this issue, as is made clear in the foreword, would write a book about child molestation. If I had gone through this experience, I’d be more comfortable reading someone who had gone through it themselves, no matter how well-researched the book may be, and it seemed worrisome that a writer might decide on such a subject without first-hand emotion to work with.
By Henry Baum for selfpublishingreview.com