Katie, Bar the Door

Fiction - Womens
479 Pages
Reviewed on 08/04/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

Katie, Bar the Door: A Novel by Ruth Hull Chatlien is a story filled with realism and humanity, following a young woman on her journey to find a foothold in a world that has mercilessly broken her. Yes, Katie is broken. She has suffered a lot from childhood. As a child, she has been religiously stifled, treated as bad in school by Mrs. Loiseaux, who accuses her of making Jesus die. She has experienced loss in the family, been sexually shamed, and bullied. Follow her on this journey as she seeks love and meaning. In a world where she struggles to be herself, can she find love and inner freedom?

This is a brilliantly written story filled with realistic themes and readers will enjoy the way the author allows the humanity and the struggles of the protagonist to shine through the writing. Ruth Hull Chatlien writes in captivating prose and creates a world that readers can relate to. It is one that most of us are familiar with. Relationships are impeccably written and readers will enjoy the family dynamics as the author builds the relationships between Katie and her parents and as she explores her emotional depth in the context of disturbing situations in which she finds herself. Characters like Joe and Marietta are written with ingenuity and I particularly enjoyed how the author handles the effect of Joe’s death on Marietta. Katie, Bar the Door: A Novel is the story of someone who struggles to be herself in a world that forces her to be like others; it is deftly accomplished with unusual expertise.

K.C. Finn

Katie, Bar the Door is a work of fiction in the interpersonal drama subgenre and was penned by author Ruth Hull Chatlien. Please note that this book contains scenes depicting sexual violence and is therefore only suitable for mature readers. The book follows the life of Katie Thompson, a woman who has suffered greatly throughout her childhood and has set out into the world determined to pursue an education and fulfilling career, only to be dogged by those who wish to see her live a more conservative life. As her desperation for love leads her into danger, Katie must search for the opportunity to find the life she has dreamed of.

Katie, Bar the Door deals with some very difficult subject matter in the form of the numerous traumas that plague Katie throughout her life. Whilst I felt compelled to include a content warning at the start of this review so that readers with past experience of trauma can be prepared for it, I should emphasize in the strongest terms that Ruth Hull Chatlien is a skilled writer of prose who handles the subject matter with emotional intelligence and compassion. The events of Katie’s life are undoubtedly upsetting by their nature, but their depiction is done with suitable respect and sensitivity for the subject matter which is something to be lauded in books on these topics. Katie herself is a wonderfully developed and vividly presented character whose small triumphs between setbacks give Katie, Bar the Door a much-needed and well-paced feel. It is a relief to see Katie get a brief respite from her difficult life, and I would recommend this book to any mature readers seeking an adult tale of trauma and recovery.

Ankita Shukla

Can anybody predict the easing of suffering caused by repressive religious teachings, the loss of a parent, and rape? In Katie, Bar the Door, author Ruth Hull Chatlien attempts to answer this question. As long as her father was alive, Katie lived under the protective shield of his care and love. However, when he passed away, that shield was abruptly snatched from her, leaving her open to deception and her mother's ironclad and orthodox rules. During her teenage rebellion years, when her boyfriend, Ritchie, insisted that she get physical with him, she found herself aroused by his longings. Although her religious teachings resounded in her head, encouraging her to turn down Ritchie's advances, she found herself attracted to these forbidden desires. Katie blamed herself and she threw herself into her career to move forward in life. But this unresolved grief from the past was sure to set her on destructive paths, threatening her chance at a happy life in the future.

Katie, Bar the Door is a book to be read and absorbed slowly. Ruth Hull Chatlien gives her readers a chance to understand everything about Katie: her childhood, her relationship with her father, her annoyance toward her mother, her dreams and hopes, and everything in between. It works in the book's favor, mainly because the topic is quite sensitive. One cannot explore the impact of unresolved feelings and sexual abuse in a matter of limited pages. So, when you pick up Katie, Bar the Door, you must devote your heart and soul to the story. It was heartbreaking to see Katie living a lonely life in the absence of a supportive parent. The patient writing of Ruth Hull Chatlien creates a window inside her characters' innermost sentiments, helping the readers bond with them. The switching back and forth from the first-person narrative to the third was a tad confusing. Still, the descriptive scene-setting, tasteful execution of a sensitive topic, engaging storytelling, and relatable characters have worked together to establish Katie, Bar the Door by Ruth Hull Chatlien as a must-read in women's fiction.

Amika Press

Thank you for the wonderful reviews!

John Manos

Chatlien leads us on a journey into the deep places inside her narrator's complex thoughts and personal history, a journey that is both familiar and fresh and very well told. This book is an excellent reminder that every one of us has a story to tell, one that is worth exploring patiently as readers enter the teller's mind and heart.