An award-winning new novel by author Rayne E. Golay explores the effects of child abuse and neglect through the story of one young survivor as she grows to adulthood and becomes a mother herself.
“So often, people see signs that something is wrong in a child’s life, but they do nothing,” says Golay, an addictions counselor with a master’s degree in psychology. “Meanwhile, the child is suffering damage – the effects of child abuse will shape her or his whole life. The abused is vulnerable to becoming a victim again.”
“The Wooden Chair” won the Royal Palm Literary Award for unpublished mainstream literature in the 2005 Florida Writers Association’s competition.
Golay’s story begins in Helsinki, Finland, in 1943 during the Finno-Russian war. Leini is a plucky 4-year-old whose father has gone off to fight, leaving her with a mother, Mira, who abuses her emotionally and physically.
Leini is desperate for her mother’s love:
“But Mamma, I love you.” Leini’s throat burned from sobs she tried to hold in. “I love you, I love you.” Grandma Britta and Grandpa often said “I love you” to Leini. Mamma didn’t, but maybe if Leini kept saying it very often, Mamma would say the words one day.
But her mother cannot hide her loathing for the little girl with the thick glasses who she must care for alone through the deprivations inflicted by the war.
As Leini grows older – the book spans 50 years – we see the effects of child abuse and neglect as she becomes a needy adult and, later, a woman who duplicates her mother’s dysfunction.
Ultimately, however, this is the story of a little girl who never loses her determination; a woman who vows to end the cycle of abuse handed down like an heirloom through her family.
“The first chapter of this book pulled me in to Leini's world,” writes Amazon reviewer Julie Palella, who gave the novel a top rating of five stars. “Rayne's descriptive writing of Finland - the feel of the time period - and the determination and spunk of this little girl we're meeting for the first time is brilliant. …
“I've read this book twice now and I got something different out of each read. It can get intense - just like life - and that's what makes it authentic.”