Reading is a form of relaxation and escape. We can travel many different paths and stand in the shoes of characters that are in unique and exciting situations we may never find ourselves in. While it is easy to imagine ourselves as the heroes of fantasy stories or laughing alongside the comedian in a humor novel, it is never simple to put ourselves in the shoes of someone experiencing a harsh reality.
“She Can Fly,” by Michael G. Gabel, is the true story of a woman who faced suffering and violence from domestic abuse. While the novel’s topic is hard to swallow, the intent is not for the reader to feel uncomfortable, but rather to shed light on how people who are suffering from domestic abuse situations can find a way out.
The novel, available at shecanfly.org, and the organization — also named She Can Fly — intend to bring to light how domestic violence is impacting people of all ages, in an attempt to end the victims’ suffering.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence recently released a statistic from the U.S. Office on Violence Against Women that a woman is beaten or assaulted every nine seconds in the United States. Domestic violence is the use of emotional or physical abuse, or a combination of both to control a partner, and “She Can Fly”details Kerry Keyes’ story of abuse, survival and escape.
While I found it hard to imagine being in Keyes’ situation, I was rooting for her the entire way nonetheless. Her story is both an intriguing page-turner and one to contemplate. Normally, I try to stay away from sad stories, but following Keyes on her journey through and out of domestic violence was one that I found hard to ignore.
While the message of the novel is clear, I believe it is important for students in college to read and reflect upon Keyes’ story. Trying to hide her identity and making her way through multiple cities, Keyes ends up both in jail and on the run, but she ultimately has to face and overcome who and what is controlling her.
The purpose of the novel is to help explain what happens in domestic violence relationships and how to break out of them. At times, the novel is graphic and heartbreaking because, as a reader, you cannot help the character; you can only suffer along with her.
At the very beginning of the novel, Keyes explains, “After all those years of abuse, my body ached constantly. But it wasn’t like I could stop going to work and lie in bed all day. I had to make a living, so I learned to just ‘shelf’ the pain, as my mom used to say. The worst part of being with Wayman was having no idea what to expect from day to day. Is he going to beat me today?”
This heartbreaking novel is a story of resilience, willpower and the fight to overcome what could have taken Keyes’ life. It sheds light on a topic that is rarely discussed, though it happens every single day. Pick up a copy of the novel, tell your friends, and spread the word to help end domestic violence and foster healthier relationships in college and in the future.