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Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
The Topography of Hidden Stories by Julia MacDonnell is a thought-provoking compilation of short stories that remind us of how far women have come in their right to equality. Each of the women faces their own traumas and personal battles as they search for their own voice and opinions to be heard. However, their views, feelings and ambitions are ignored, mocked and belittled. The stories include a girl made to keep secrets about her abuse and her mother's social life from her sanctimonious, overbearing father. Annie McHugh sets out on a pilgrimage to meet the future President, only to realize that the future leader of the free world is willing to show her more kindness than her own family. Serena is on her way to Washington to have an illegal medical procedure from a back street doctor so she can regain respect from a judgmental and cruel society. A young journalist is a witness to the horrors of the streets where abandoned children are forgotten and the ignored of society are left to fester. Helen struggles to raise her son to respect human life and the dangers of war but a shocking discovery in the guest bedroom brings her worse nightmare to life.
In The Topography of Hidden Stories by Julia MacDonnell, each of these well-written and powerfully vivid stories will touch your emotions deeply. The women attempt to gain respect and acceptance in a world where they were second-class citizens from the moment they were born. Conditioned to be silent and compliant, the women are forced into situations that tear their self-worth to shreds. The characters and storylines were really believable and I immediately resonated with their dreadful situations. Any one of the stories could be lengthened to full novels as the subject matter was so compelling. In River Of Grace, the concept of a young girl being forced to commit such atrocious acts at her age was heartbreaking. My favorite story was Red Stain On Yellow Dress; this was incredibly moving to read. There are great twists to many of the stories which I loved. This is an excellent collection and a true testament to the incredible emotional strength of women.