About Scattered Links.
Scattered Links is a novel that pulls its characters from the gutters and, in the end, celebrates the tenacity of the human spirit.
Thirteen-year-old Oksana lives on the streets of Russia with her pregnant mama and abusive aunt—both prostitutes. When Mama swells into labor, Oksana makes a decision to save herself from abandonment, a decision that torments her forever. When her plan fails and her aunt dumps her in an orphanage, she never has the chance to say goodbye to her mama or tell her the secret that haunts her. Scattered Links is a story of family and the consequences that come from never learning how to love, of a girl’s inability to bond with her adopted family and the frustrations that follow. How can a child understand the mechanics of forming a healthy relationship when she never had a mother who answered her cries, held her when she was frightened, fed her when she was hungry, or loved her unconditionally? Only when the child meets a rescued abused horse, and recognizes the pain in his eyes, does she begin to trust again.
Weidenbenner quickly draws readers Oksana's world--and her ongoing struggles. Within the first few pages, I was attached to Oksana's story. I simply needed to keep reading--and hoping for a happy ending for the young girl. It is a painful, sad story dotted with a lot of harsh realism--but, there are bright spots. The author keeps the story focused and moving--but, ensures that readers have plenty of time to become emotionally connected to the characters.
Scattered Links highlights complicated characters in a complicated story. There are characters that readers will immediately despise (the horrid Aunt, for example). While it could be argued that "life turned her that way"--she was certainly lacking in human character. Oksana is both a product of nature and nurture--and sometimes, while it's possible to empathize with her actions and feelings--it's difficult to "like" her as a character. Having said that, I think that realism in Oksana's personality is just what makes this book so gripping.
Would I recommend Scattered Links? Yes. It isn't a happy-go-lucky tale of rags to riches or of a little girl lost and saved. It's a story about a girl deeply affected by her family and its environment. It is a very well written, fictionalized, look into a world that many of us will never know.
***************************************Scattered Links, (initially titled Love is Just a Word), was the winner of the 2013 Aspiring Writers Competition, sponsored by Write on Con and The Reading Room. Scattered Links was intended to show a glimpse into the life of a child with RAD, reactive attachment disorder, so prevalent in children who never had unconditional love in infancy. This novel was inspired by Michelle’s journey to Russia to adopt her orphan daughter. Upon seeing the neglect of orphanage children and learning of the effects of RAD in post-institutionalized children, Michelle researched this disorder, committed to giving her daughter the best chance at a healthy life. Sadly, many parents can’t cope with the behavior from kids with RAD and re-home their children like pets.