Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen proves that you don’t need tiny little chapters and excruciating cliffhangers to create suspense. The novel follows a battered woman as she escapes her abusive husband with their young son and creates a new identity and life in a new state. The book does an excellent job of thrusting the reader into the world of the protagonist; just as Fran/Beth is constantly on edge, so was I, certain the murderous brute would be coming for her on every page.
I avoided this book for a long time, thinking it was one of those “men are so terrible, women are so awesome” type stories, which I hate-hate-hate, but it wasn’t. It was a good story with good writing, one that made me terribly sad that people actually have to live like this: abandoning their friends, family, jobs, homes, and hair colors—disappearing but still never feeling safe. Too bad Fran/Beth didn’t know the girls from the Dixie Chicks’ hit “Goodbye Earl”—if she had, things might have turned out very differently for old batterin’ Bobby Benedetto.