A Decade Aborning

Fiction - Drama
317 Pages
Reviewed on 01/26/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Keith Julius is the author of drama novels inspired by his real-life experiences as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA. Founded in 1977, the CASA program enlists volunteers to represent children in cases of child abuse and child neglect. CASA volunteers work closely with families, sometimes for over two years on a single case, to assure the children in these traumatic situations are placed properly and well cared for. Drawing from nearly a decade of personal involvement as a CASA volunteer, Julius creates intense stories that pull readers into an emotional landscape of hopes, fears, and brutal realities.

In 2015, Julius released his first novel, the suspense thriller REMORSE BY DEGREE. This was followed by his latest series, The CASA Chronicles, which currently stands at four volumes and includes CATCH A FALLING STAR, BORN FOR ADVERSITY, THE ROBBER OF YOUTH, and the 2023 release, A DECADE ABORNING. Every book focuses on a different family, each struggling with some of society's most challenging issues, including addiction, suicide, abuse, and childhood mental illness and trauma.

Julius brings a realism and compassion to his stories that can only come from personal experience. These realistic portrayals allow the reader to join with mothers and fathers, and of course the children involved, as they face life's adversities. He invites you to share in their triumphs, and sorrow in their failures, as they confront their struggles with dignity, determination, and the promise of a better future for their children.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

A Decade Aborning by Keith Julius is a social issues novel and the fourth book in The CASA Chronicles, preceded by book one, Catch a Falling Star, book two, Born for Adversity, and book three, The Robber of Youth. This installment revolves around a suicidal teenage girl named Pamela Watkins, who is introduced as she is standing on the edge of a bridge, ready to jump. Saved from the irrevocable, Pamela's parents charge into the situation with a mixture of shock, anger, and sadness. Beverly Johnson, a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate, also called CASA, remembers Pamela Watkins as the little girl that she worked with ten years earlier when the Watkins family adopted Pamela. Narrated in alternating points of view and pieced together with meeting transcripts and journal-style entries from Pamela dating back ten years, the story of how and why Pamela almost jumped and Beverly's struggle with a feeling of failure begins to unfold.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did not know going in what a CASA was and what an advocate did, nor had I read any of the previous books in the series. Keith Julius made any issues that may have arisen for readers who find themselves in the same boat go away. A Decade Aborning reads seamlessly as a stand-alone and Beverly uses a scene as she's about to see Pamela again for the first time in ten years to explain the differences between a caseworker and an advocate, what they do, and the agencies they represent. Julius strings tension through the entirety of the novel and while Pamela's backstory is heartbreaking, particularly as it is told through the lens of when she was little, Beverly's work and Pamela's uncle, Brian, were the most intriguing to me. I think we generally view even volunteers in a role of advocacy as pencil-pushing bureaucrats, but through Beverly, the human element comes to life and that perspective shifted for me dramatically. There are two explosive twists that occur and the drama kicks up about a thousand notches when we get into the headspace of a boy named Bobby's parents. The writing is clean, tight, and believable, and the characters are deeply layered. From start to finish, Julius maintains a steady pace and the result is an engrossing story that does the genre and the CASA community proud.

Viga Boland

You might wonder, as I did, the definition of the word “aborning” in the title of Keith Julius' latest book, A Decade Aborning. It refers to something that is being born or being realized. What is being realized in this excellent literary novel is the deeply buried reason for a teenager’s attempt to jump from a high-level bridge. But it takes a team of concerned and caring people, including police, a classmate, an uncle, a therapist, and a dedicated CASA advocate, Beverly Johnson, to get Pamela Watkins to open up about her suicide attempt. You may wonder why Pamela’s loving and supportive parents were excluded from that group. The reason is that when this teenager attempted suicide, the first thing authorities considered was the possibility of serious issues in the home. Pamela’s uncle agreed to let her live with him until all possible causes were explored. When Pamela herself finally recognized the root cause for her behavior, she realized it was ten years “aborning.”

Keith Julius' delivery of the details of this story is superb. His years of experience as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, like Beverly Johnson in this novel, gives credibility to Pamela Watkins’ motivations and background. Julius’ depiction of Pamela and each character who affects her life is sensitive and realistic. Julius expertly uses dialogue to reveal character, occasionally changing narrators to better inform readers, e.g. letting us see Pamela’s birth parents through her 7-year-old eyes in several chapters that alternate with her 17-year-old reflections on her current situation and adoptive parents. Julius also provides transcript-style depictions of Pamela’s therapy sessions. And bringing a warm reality to A Decade Aborning is the inclusion of family-friendly pastimes, episodes of teens helping teens, and a touching coming of age for Pamela, and even to a certain extent, for her adoptive mother. Given the current high rate of suicide attempts by teens and others, this novel is an important book to help people realize that today’s actions may just have been A Decade Aborning.

Grant Leishman

A Decade Aborning by Keith Julius is a literary tale of childhood and coming to terms with situations imposed on you through no fault of your own. Pamela Watkins had been taken from her family for safety reasons when she was just six years old and placed in the care of a foster family, Angie and Tim. As part of the involvement of Child Services, Beverly Johnson, a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), was tasked with ensuring the child’s best interests were being safeguarded during the entire process. Over time, when it became obvious that returning to the family home was not an option, the childless Tim and Angie applied to adopt young Pamela and she became their daughter. Some ten years later, after what seemed like normal adolescent and teenage years, Pamela was saved by a passing policeman from a suicide attempt off a bridge. Now seventeen, Pamela is still a minor and for the second time, Beverly Johnson found herself appointed as CASA for Pamela Watkins. Despite her attempted suicide and her unwillingness to talk about it, Beverly, her adoptive parents, Tim’s brother Brian, and a therapist must somehow get to the bottom of Pamela’s root problem and discover a way forward, one that works for everyone concerned.

Despite the subject matter, A Decade Aborning is a gentle and satisfying read. Author Keith Julius has created characters that are real, identifiable, and understandable. It is clear that Pamela has some dark secret tucked away in the corner of her mind and it is fascinating watching the events unfold as the author uses the characters deftly to tease out the real root problem without undermining Pamela’s confidence, courage, and self-worth. I particularly enjoyed the character of Beverly and could readily identify with her feelings that perhaps she had failed somehow in her first interaction with Pamela and her family. I was also deeply impressed by the whole CASA program and the use of volunteers to take on and safeguard children’s best interests in situations where impersonal bureaucracy might seem faceless and uncaring, especially to a young child. The author also did a good job of creating interest in the reader as to the hidden trauma that haunted Pamela. I certainly found ideas and possibilities flitting through my mind as the story unfolded and that is doubtless the aim of a good storyteller. I enjoyed this book, especially the lack of explicit details and profanity, so I can highly recommend it to all ages.