Can a committee raise a child or replace a mother’s love?
That’s a question posed in Carollyne Haynes’ recent novel Raised by Committee.
Set in Devon, England in the 1960’s, “Raised by Committee” tells the story of an abandoned and abused young girl’s journey as she struggles to make sense of her past. At age 12, Gail is made a ‘ward of the courts, as being in need of moral protection.’ She is placed under the care of the ubiquitous Children’s Committee and sent to live in a children’s home. Set against a backdrop of Beatlemania and the sexual revolution, Raised by Committee chronicles Gail’s roller coaster emotional ride as she rails against the restrictions put on her life and struggles to fill the void left by her parents.
As much as she resents the interference of the Children’s Committee, deep down she realizes that she needs their protection – from herself as much as anyone. Gail has a wild streak in her fuelled by hurt and anger, and a searing anguish which threatens to consume her.
From runaway, to thief to top student, Gail’s life runs the gamut from despair to hope. Just when she thinks everything is fine, it blows up in her face again and again.
As a board member with Nanaimo’s Haven Society, which provides shelter and support for women and children fleeing abuse, Haynes is acutely aware of the challenges facing caregivers. The work is demanding and often thankless as they come face to face with the hurt and anger of the young girls and women they are trying to help.
One reviewer writes “This is a brave and moving book. Carollyne tells her story with great honesty, helping us to understand something, at least, of the horror of sexual abuse and abandonment…This book is valuable because it is sure to help others in similar positions to recover from their hurt. Carollyne’s writing is good, with clear narrative and authentic dialogue.”
Haynes will present a slide show and talk about her book at the Campbell River Library on Tuesday, March 15 from 2-3 pm. This is a free program, and all are welcome. The Campbell River Library is located at 1240 Shoppers Row, and is part of the Vancouver Island Regional Library, www.virl.bc.ca .