Sunday, March 20, 2016

What Readers Are Saying About THE PACKING HOUSE

The reviews keep coming in and they are landing primarily in the 5/5 star and some 4/5 star range for my debut YA novel, THE PACKING HOUSE. If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, consider what readers are saying about THE PACKING HOUSE before deciding for yourself. Be warned, due to my publisher closing, availability will become extremely limited after 5/31/16. I hope you'll grab an exclusive, first edition copy for yourself before then. I welcome you to add your honest review, detailing what it was like for you to read THE PACKING HOUSE yourself.

What Readers Are Saying About THE PACKING HOUSE:
"This book is a game changer! Beautifully written and exacting with its topic. It braves a topic that's taboo and shouldn't be. It speaks up where others do not. Such an important book. I have so much love for it.

This story is an exceptional internal dialogue with self. And yet, it does not waiver in the least from also letting the reader in on the external world of the protagonist, Joel Scrivener. What the reader can see here, more than anywhere else in literature that I know of, is the internal struggle the survivor of childhood sexual abuse faces on an ongoing relentless basis.

What Cribbs has done here is phenomenal. I knew as soon as I read the draft of this novel that it was special. It takes us down the deep dark rabbit hole of confusion faced by many sexual abuse victims. It shows how the mind plays tricks on the survivor in order to help them to move forward in the world without checking out of it. Joel Scrivener is painted as a boy in the midst of confusion. He knows that everything is not right...but the kernels of truth he needs to complete the puzzle and get to the bottom of the problem are just outside his reach.

Only a survivor of sexual abuse can know the frustration of having great swaths of their lives cordoned off from their accessible memory. Joel struggles through a failing year of high school, while dealing with his highly dysfunctional mother and the feeling that something horrible has happened to him.

As Joel ricochets through a series of blind and frustrating choices, from running away from home to breaking into a school for shelter to recalling a botched experimental sexual encounter with a male friend, he struggles to piece together the story of his life. With parts missing even from his own view, he has no idea how to do this. On his journey, he recounts tender moments with his first love, Amber, whom he has since moved away from. We see him struggling with the side effects of his dark secret in the way he falls asleep in class and the way he cannot concentrate enough to settle into his schoolwork. There are many telltale moments in his reasoning that suggests he is a fragile egg about to crack. The ache that builds throughout this story is real. The reader will feel frustrated and sympathetic while getting an inside look at Joel's roller-coaster of emotional turmoil. And they will wonder at his strength as he chooses to take the rabbit hole he sees before him and tries to reconstruct his shattered life.

Some captured moments in THE PACKING HOUSE:

At the onset of the story, Joel admits to his way of dealing with things when he says, 'Running is my go-to response'.

When Joel speaks of how deflated and defeated he is, he says, 'I might as well be a week-old balloon, trailing limply, trying to keep from touching the ground. The fight is gone out of me. I don't even want to try anymore.' The reader feels the power of his defeat so deeply.

Perhaps my favourite passage from The Packing House is the following one:

The stuck place I'm in is too familiar, like the final box unpacked after a move; sometimes it's not ready to be unpacked, or we're not ready to face everything that's inside, so it sits there until we have to face it, one way or another.

That, dear readers, is the perfect analogy for the victim of childhood sexual trauma. And one never knows when that box will unpack. It is the threat in the heart of the shattered life...the threat of the last box's unpacking. Cribbs has written of an incredible journey here. A journey that moved me to tears and wonder.

Though a fictional one, this is a true documentation of what happens to the victim of this horrific crime. One look into the snowballing careening fall of Joel Scrivener, and the reader will get an idea of what it is to struggle with this terrible they often don't even know they carry. Sometimes the brain knows that the only way to survive is to send the terrible secret into a deep dark cellar somewhere inside its buried chambers until it's ready to be accessed. Or until it just cannot be contained any longer. Cribbs has perfectly captured this journey in telling Joel's story. And he keeps the reader at Joel's side through every step of the journey, expertly revealing the kernels at just the right moments of Joel's struggle.

I suggest everyone read this story. It's one of the most important ones I have ever read, and moreover, it is beautifully told. Cribbs is an exceptional writer...I look forward to more from him and I'm excited to see where he goes from here. After telling the story he needed to tell, there's no limit to what he can do with the stories he wants to tell!

My hopes with THE PACKING HOUSE? That it begins (or continues) the much needed conversation that some are unwilling to partake in. Childhood Sexual Abuse is an epidemic. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys prior to the age of 18 will experience an unwanted sexual act, either including touch or not. That's unacceptable. Dialogue helps prevent future occurrences. G. Donald Cribbs's THE PACKING HOUSE is a perfect jumping off point. READ IT NOW! Don't be afraid to take this sometimes hard, but always beautiful, journey."

"This was a powerful and important story needing to be told, both for survivors and those of us who love a survivor. The main character, Joel, is well developed and relatable. His journey of healing is both inspiring and informative. Joel's story could be so many people's story and the author, Don Cribbs, does a remarkable job of imparting information about abuse while still developing the plot. As a parent and an educator, this story has motivated me to consider the ways I myself might be more effective in both preventing and addressing child abuse. This book would be a valuable resource to help dispel the silence and shame that so often surrounds this difficult topic."

"There is so much heart in this book. With bravery, Cribbs brings his own experiences with molestation and recovery to the YA world, giving his readers permission to acknowledge, heal and grow beyond the things in life that feel as if they've taken away choices. Bravo to Cribbs for stepping up and speaking out."

"I am not an avid reader. In fact, had I not heard of The Packing House apart through friends’ social media, I never would have cracked the book open.

  Nonetheless, I accessed the first few chapters online and was immediately ‘hooked’ on the story as well as Cribbs’ style of telling the story. A week or so later the book and, unable to put the book down, I read the rest of the book that same day.

  This important book, in an informative and compelling way, introduces childhood sexual abuse (CSA) to those who have been spared the grief and trauma. The Packing House has increased my awareness and sensitivity to victims of CSA, as well as a desire to support them in their recovery.
It was a good investment of my time and money!"

"Mr Cribbs is a very gifted writer. I started reading it and couldn't put it down until I finished it in a weekend. To the author I say congratulations for a job well done.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I could identify with many of the main character's (Joel) thoughts and feelings. I closed the book with a positive sense of (and admiration for) Joel's strength in his recovery and that he was going to be OK, despite having been failed by all of the people that were supposed to protect him in his childhood."

"I found myself unable to put the book down. I was captivated, drawn in as I felt my own thoughts and feelings from my childhood being validated as I read. As I cried (sobbed) my way through the final chapters of the book, I was grateful for the transformative truth incorporated in the end.

Powerful story, one I will most definitely read again. A story that will aid in your recovery journey if you allow it."

The Packing House brings the reader through the darkness of abuse into the light of resilience. I found myself emotionally engaged with the main character; weeping when he wept, fearful when he was scared, and hopeful as he walked toward wholeness.”

“As a counselor, I believe male survivors of sexual abuse (teens and adults) can find hope and healing through the expressed vulnerability and life-giving messages embedded within the pages.”

“Raw and open, The Packing House doesn't hold back any punches. True to its cover, it will pull you into the mind of a teen suffering from abuse, and desperate to find a way out.”

“The main character, Joel, has thoughts that are broken, jumping around between memories and the present, and almost is able to remove himself from them like a survivor coming to terms with his traumatic ordeal and trying to keep himself disconnected.”

“I'll warn you, it's a heartbreaking read. A great debut novel.”

The Packing House was written with great expertise.”

“I’m not an avid reader, but I could not put this book down!”

“Cribbs masterfully captures the voice of a teenage boy.”

The Packing House is as an enthralling and important piece of fiction that tastefully and honestly addresses the topic of sexual abuse of minors.”

“In his debut novel, G. Donald Cribbs has written an emotional wallop about the courage and bravery of a young survivor. The Packing House is a tapestry of nightmares—the images that haunt Joel in his dreams and memories woven together with the painful experiences of a frayed and fractured family life, the take-no-prisoner bullying of adolescence, and the agony of loving and not knowing if it will ever be returned. And yet, Joel's story is one of strength and resilience as he hunts down the source of all this pain—a story Cribbs captures with sharp-eyed and utterly clear veracity. Three cheers to G. Donald Cribbs for endeavoring to tell this tough story and doing it so well.”

“Definitely a must read!!”

“If you are a survivor of abuse, or the family/friend/significant other of a survivor, you need this book. I immediately identified with the MC, Joel. It’s a tough story told well through Joel’s POV. The imagery is vivid, the writing is solid and I would recommend this book to everyone.”

“It was a good investment of my time and money!”

The Packing House by G. Donald Cribbs is an incredible, powerful book. It is an absolute must-read for anyone with a son or for any boy/man who has survived child sexual abuse.”

“I read this book in one sitting. It is so compelling, it is well written and has a great voice. The subject of sexual abuse of children, the PTSD and the recovery of memories from long ago is brutal and horrifying, but Donald’s honesty and how he presents this story is amazing. I give it 5 stars, his is a voice for those who have not been able to process their pain yet.”

“Real, raw, and very representative. It will fit in very well with other Young Adult titles; I’m hoping that public libraries will consider purchasing it for their inventories.”

“Outstanding debut novel!”

“Cribbs’ outstanding book sheds light that may result in healing, as well as in greater knowledge. Aside from the therapeutic potential, this is a gripping novel which is a great read. Well-written, engrossing and timely, this book deserves a place of honor as one of the best books on the subject which I have read!”

“The story takes the reader through a cacophony of directions, each one unraveling and further exposing the dissonance of raw truths, as they lie—at the feet of the damaged, helpless victim, and in the face of a society all too willing to turn away and pretend blindness.”

“I felt his story in my bones.”

“This significant book illuminates the world of child abuse and neglect from a young man’s perspective. While it’s a tough book to read, it is a necessary piece of work to move the world from a poorly and rarely acknowledged issue to one of understanding and compassion.”

“His vivid description of the ins and outs of dysfunction are haunting and authentic. In this wonderful book the author starts us in a realm of nightmare and confusion, moves us to a place of trauma and pain, and ultimately guides us into the light of redemption and healing. This is a book that demanded to be written and I am so glad that the author had the strength and insight to see it through.”

“The author does an excellent job of making a book dealing with a difficult subject enjoyable to read. He is a master at relating the emotional upheaval and turmoil that results from the abuse portrayed within these pages. The roller coaster ride the reader experiences will leave an indelible impression of what it is really like to experience such horrific exploitation.”

“What Cribbs has done here is phenomenal. The ache that builds throughout this story is real. The reader will feel frustrated and sympathetic while getting an inside look at Joel’s roller-coaster of emotional turmoil. And they will wonder at his strength as he chooses to take the rabbit hole he sees before him and tries to reconstruct his shattered life.”
“I suggest everyone read this story. It’s one of the most important ones I have ever read, and moreover, it is beautifully told. Cribbs is an exceptional writer...I look forward to more from him and I’m excited to see where he goes from here. After telling the story he needed to tell, there’s no limit to what he can do with the stories he wants to tell!”

If you haven't had a chance to read the synopsis, check it out here:
When sixteen-year-old Joel Scrivener has a raging nightmare in study hall and someone records it on their phone, he awakens to a living nightmare where everyone knows the secret he's avoided for ten years. Reeling from a series of bullying incidents posted on YouTube and an ill-timed mid-year move, Joel takes to the woods, leaving the bullies and his broken home behind. However, life as a runaway isn’t easy. Joel finds it difficult to navigate break-ins, wrestle hallucinations, and elude capture. He races to figure out who his dream-world attacker could be, piecing clues together with flashes of remembered images that play endlessly inside his head. Besides thes e images, the one constant thought occupying Joel’s mind is Amber Walker, the girl he’s been in love with for years. Amber sees little beyond the broken boy Joel has become, despite the letters they’ve written back and forth to each other. But Joel is stronger and more resilient than he looks, and it’s time he convinces Amber of this fact, before he runs out of chances with her for good.

Ready to grab your own copy? You can buy THE PACKING HOUSE here:

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