A Quiet Fear is fiction based on author Thia Keen’s own traumatic experiences of sexual, emotional and physical abuse as a child. The novel starts when Lily (the protagonist) attends her first session with her therapist for symptoms of severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD). Lily’s anxiety is palpable throughout the novel as recurring childhood memories of her godfather / uncle’s demented sexual fetishes surface from deep in her psychic.
Lily is the third child, second daughter, raised by devout Catholic parents. They work vigorously to provide for their four children and try hard to prepare them to be responsible adults with faith and family values. Lily has a wonderful friendship with her older brother who tries to understand, protect and help her as they are growing up. The parents are exceptionally strict and Lily rebels as a teenager.
They live near their large extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles. Her mother’s childless married sister, Aunt Milly, and her husband, Frank, live several hours north in Chicago where he works in a steel mill, and they never miss a baptism in their large brood of nieces and nephews. They are the only ones who move away from the family center, and they always have bigger cars and fancier homes than their country relatives. They also flaunt their wealth and give expensive gifts to their godchildren. Lily grows to hate the holidays and all high holy days at the church, because holidays always beckon Millie and Frank home to visit. Though there seem to be so many clues, no one ever suspects slippery Millie and Frank.
Lily reunites with her parents after years of strife as a young adult. Her evil uncle is outed due to her relentless efforts to stop him from torturing any other children.
Characters are well developed and seem real; shades of the world of pornography thread through the story like a tapeworm. Unexpected plot twists keep the reader turning the pages.
This quote from Rose Kennedy follows the title page of the novel, “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens but it never goes away.”
The author spent five years writing this thought-provoking and well written novel. It seems demons from her past may still haunt her, even though she is retired from a long teaching career and now lives a full life with her husband and dog.