Title: God Bless the Child
Author: Merilyn Howton Marriott
Sequel to: The Children of Main Street
Major Themes: Counseling, Child Abuse, Family
Synopsis: Katie gets so involved with the children and parents that she counsels that she neglects her own family—how can she strike the right balance?
A couple of years ago, I read The Children of Main Street. It was a gripping story, and made an impact on me. Then, I found God Bless the Child, a sequel. When I read it this week, I could hardly put it down. It is a gripping story about hurting people and a counselor who did her best to help them. It is also a murder mystery and a beautiful story about family.
Katie loved her job as a counselor. She loved helping people figure out what was bothering them and how to resolve their problems. She loved letting people talk until they were ready to tell her what was really at the bottom of their troubles. She loved seeing them become happy, healthy people.
Katie hated her job as a counselor. She hated seeing hurting children and not being able to help them. She hated seeing parents who didn’t care enough to help their children—or even spend time with them. She hated it when she failed to help someone and tragedy resulted—even when it was in no way her fault.
A little boy with an obsessive-compulsive disorder, a three-year-old whose mother is sure that the child has problems (but Katie sees more issues in the mother), an 11-year-old whose parents get divorced…Katie sees it all, and can’t keep herself from caring too much for every one of her clients. When the three-year-old dies tragically, Katie wonders. Was it an accident—or murder? How much should she poke into it? And at home, her adoptive daughter and her husband want more of her time. How can she balance her life and energy?
I could hardly put God Bless the Child down. It sucked me in and made me really feel like I was there with Katie, and I cared about the people almost as much as Katie did. This author knows her subject, and writes passionately about the issues that children have to face. Some were abused, some were misunderstood, some were wired differently and their parents needed help to know how to manage them. The struggles she faced in her family are very realistic, too. This is a well-written book that anyone who cares for children should read.
WARNING: Chapter 1: gosh. Chapter 2: Child says fwikin and swears a lot. Chapter 5: Darn. Chapter 15: heck. Chapter 23: dang it. Chapter 26: the heck there is, a description of sexual abuse. Chapter 45: woman falls in love with a divorced man. Throughout, from Chapter 19 on: possible murder of a child. Several times, hints at intimacy in Katie’s marriage.