When Nanda Dyssou of Coriolis offered me a copy of Exit Wounds to read and review, I happily accepted, especially with the Irish connect the book has. In case you don’t know, I’m very partial to all things Irish, despite never having set a foot into Ireland!
Born to shanty Irish on one side and Park Avenue privilege on the other, Laura navigates a turbulent childhood filled with the alcohol-fueled abuse of her volatile father and her mother’s excessive drinking. As the middle child of three girls, she assigns herself the role of her mother’s protector, who dies when Laura is thirteen, leaving her heartbroken and adrift.
Insecure, anxious, and fearful, she tries drugs, random sex, and a sequence of lovers. Along the way, she becomes a successful painter and has a bad first marriage. Nothing however seems to assuage her emptiness and her sense of loss. Eventually, she marries a caring man and has a loving daughter. It is only at the end of her life and by way of an unusual and unexpected turn of events that she is finally able to make peace with herself, to let go of the feeling that she never really grieved, and said goodbye to her beloved mother, and to appreciate that though we work at love and acceptance, sometimes the most wonderful experiences in our lives come in unanticipated and unsought ways.
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My review of Exit Wounds
This starts out being a story of a dysfunctional family and the children torn apart by their parents’ alcholism, fighting and generally not being present for their for their children. Laura, as the middle child of the family, who was crazy about her father, and then takes on the role of taking care of her mother. Her mother dies after a longish illness when Laura is only thirteen and she somehow blames herself.
Yet, despite her terrible start in childhood, followed by incredibly bad choices, Laura manages to make a success of herself. The story takes us to the end of her life, where looking back on all the pain, she manages to sort through all the pain of her past and be emotionally healed.
The author’s writing style is incredible and the story flowed so smoothly despite the sometimes dark subjects that she dealt with. There were flashes of that typical Irish humour despite the raw emotions that were so beautifully expressed. At times the writing felt almost autobiographical.
This is such a moving and heartbreaking story and one that felt so real and relatable. It’s the story of the triumph of the human spirit over everything else!
New York native Annie O’Neill Stein moved to Los Angeles in the ‘80s as an actress. After many small parts in television, from Miami Vice to Charlie’s Angels, she eventually found her true passion: writing.
Throughout her writing journey, Stein also led creative writing workshops with foster teens and published a series of short stories and poetry, “Beauty From Ashes”, written by foster youth.
When asked to describe her work, she said, “The humor and depth of ‘Exit Wounds’ will open the reader up to the importance of grieving and the need to come to terms with one’s past. I hope that many readers will relate to the journey we all must take to learn from and leave our pasts behind.”
Annie O’Neill Stein spent the past ten years writing her debut novel, “Exit Wounds”. Her family and publisher hope that her artistic legacy lives on through this book. Her husband, Jeffrey, says, “Sadly, after years of work writing ‘Exit Wounds’, Annie passed away just weeks before the publication she so looked forward to. The book is a testament to the talent and tenacity she displayed in producing this work.”
My thanks to Coriolis for a copy of this book for a review.