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Leaving Toxic Family Relationships
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For many people living in a toxic family relationship can be a stressful, chaotic part of childhood. Being an adult means learning how to cope with toxic parents, and how to leave them behind. Often the death of parents will also leave conflicting feelings of remorse and guilt, despite what parents did to their child. Thomas Whaley’s debut novel explores Benjamin Quinn’s childhood, and how he finally attempts to leave it all behind.
Benjamin blames his parents for the way he has turned out. He’s pompous, egotistical, and sarcastic. Benjamin doesn’t want to be this way, but feels he was forced into his personality by his parents. Benjamin learns a family secret that may explain why his parents raised him in a toxic environment, but certainly doesn’t absolve them of all blame.
If you enjoy authors like David Sedaris, you’ll enjoy reading Thomas’s novel about Benjamin Quinn, a fictional character in “Leaving Montana”. Sometimes leaving a state can mean more than leaving a location; it can also mean leaving the family that raised you behind.
David Sedaris’s new book should be coming out shortly, as his last short story collection came out in 2013. He certainly spends time writing self-deprecating, autobiographical, and humorous books. No topic is taboo with him. Many reviewers are comparing Thomas with David.
Thomas Whaley has created a character who should be likable. He’s successful in his career; he has a loving partner, two children, and a beautiful home. He has a faithful group of friends. But for those who know him well, he has deep-rooted anger, ready to explode.
Not a lot is given away in the preview of the book. We understood his own parents had a terrible relationship. It’s said he saw terrible things happen, which many adults would be horrified to see. Perhaps this implies that abuse was a part of his childhood. He ended the toxic cycle in his own personal life, and managed to put it aside by his 30s. He felt he had it under control, until his parents confided in a secret.
Most people can agree that by the time you’re in your 30s, it’s time to set aside childhood traumas, and either forgive your parents, or move on. It’s time to be responsible for your own life. But for Ben, it sounds like he has to face his demons once again. The only other tidbit of information given is that he is going to journey back to Montana so he can face his fears, and put them to rest permanently.
Thomas has won two awards for his debut novel. One is the NIEA award for National Indie Excellence Awards, and the second is the Eric Hoffer Book Award. Not many authors do as well with their debut novel.
It will be exciting to see what Thomas’s next novel will be about. Perhaps it will be another story about Benjamin, or it will be about an entirely new character. Either way we will have to wait and see.
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