AFTER THE RAIN SKIES – 2ND EDITION BY MICHELLE AYON NAVAJAS (BOOK REVIEW BY WTWC)
Disturbing facts from real victims of abuse in different forms, written in the guise of poetry and prose, shedding light that help is within reach. “After Rain Skies – 2nd Edition” is written by Ms. Michelle Navajas in collaboration with Perak Women for Women Society in Malaysia calling for a campaign against gender-based violence. It took me days before reaching the final pages of this book as it is indeed baffling and heartbreaking every page.
Disclaimer: This review contains some spoilers! Trigger warning includes abuse of all kinds. Reading discretion is advised.
Quoting from Ms. Mich herself, this book shows that perpetrators of abuse may not directly present themselves as such but hid in the faces of kind, smart, and successful persons. It is an unpleasant surprise when midway from pursuing lifetime happiness is the unleashing of a behavior women have to put up with – confused, afraid, but still accepting. As well as to be shattered in pieces by people who did not ask for any consent, regardless if it is someone trusted or barely known. I like the division of this book from the perspectives of a friend, their children, and the survivors themselves of different ages. Each piece encapsulates the thoughts and emotions similar to the stories included.
It breaks my heart that abuse against women and children continues to happen, and many leads their lives silenced, thinking they cannot reach for help. Worse, they thought they deserved it. Women are molded to be adaptive for other people’s needs, and the purpose of our existence is to give care and understanding, much to the point that we lose ourselves in the process. I’ve been both a victim and a witness, it is a struggle not to get emotional while reading for their pain is shared. At the same time, no one has to have the same experience to feel the life-changing stories of these brave survivors. It is a difficult topic to listen to or read about but it has to be talked about.
It is inspiring how these survivors bounced back, despite the pace and in whatever way they chose to, finally choosing that a better life is waiting for them outside. Some took years, some has to face near-death to be believed, some walked away the first time, while others are still there but are now seeking help to be rescued. Their testimonies are both warnings and reminders that it is not our fault for any of that abuse to happen. We do not deserve to be treated, manipulated, and taken for granted.
I’d like to share my thoughts with my favorite poems in the book.
Beginning with “Stars Fled From Your Eyes.” It is a piece telling the story of such experiences slowly draining the life out of the victim. To take the joy away from a person only yet to experience the world is a crime. Relating to the story of Erin, it’s saddening how women fall for a person they vowed to spend the rest of their lives with only to be beaten up by the very same person who turned into monsters their parents refused them to meet. Yet however it happens, true to the poem’s message and Erin, stars will come back. We can always begin again. It won’t be easy but we will begin again.
“Masquerade” is another excellent poem describing the talent of masking one’s dilemma behind a confident image. Abuse does not always pertain to physical violence but also mental and emotional torture as well. An experience that most have difficulty understanding is that one cannot just conveniently leave a marriage or a relationship in general. Emotions, and other important, sometimes legal, factors are involved. By staying is grasping for the hope that it will soon stop and never happen again. Unfortunately, it rarely happens.
Finally, the piece I relate to the most is “Mama, I Remember.” From the viewpoint of children with an abusive parent, both victims, and witnesses to the pain their mother kept for long, taking the matters into their hands to end the misery. It has a similar take on some of my WIP stories, that looking at it now, is a coping mechanism to trauma. Like Harun and Irfan, the promise to become responsible and better guardians of the next generation is the lesson we had to learn differently.
Honorable mention is the ending of the poem, “Red Flag,” which made me audibly gasp and say, “the audacity?!” It’s insane.
I recommend this book! A beautiful quote from the story of Xin Yi, “Because that’s how you deal with things that hurt but you can’t touch. You pull them out of you and you let everyone see, and you hope to God no one recognizes themselves in your tragic story (p.78).” To be hit by a partner, parent, friend, or stranger for whatever reason they intend to put against us should never be a choice. Abuse is rooted in love, expressed violently, leaving traumatic pain. This book motivated me to be more sensitive to hidden wounds, use my voice to speak for the silenced, and stop tolerating anyone who may treat me or the people in my life, less than we deserve.
Gratitude to Ms. Mich for allowing her platform to be for raising awareness of abuse. You’re an inspiring author for a young writer like me! To anyone interested in buying her book, “After the Rain Skies – 2nd Edition,” this link will point you directly to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09V1NQCLN/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?crid=2NP4VOADXFD6F&keywords=after+rain+skies+second+edition&qid=1646697398&sprefix=after+rain+skies+second+edition%2Caps%2C296&sr=8-1
To end this book review, I’d like to leave this message:
IT’S NEVER THE VICTIM’S FAULT.
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