What probably started as an essay for a beginning English class has been published by a Richland author without the benefit of editing. "In The Midst of Pain," published by Xlibris, could have been much better read if Ms. McNeil had used an editor.
It's sad really, because the story of Juanita R. McNeil, while not unlike other accounts of domestic violence and child abuse, has the added twist of her slow painful descent into blindness. Sometime during the course of Ms. McNeil's troubled life, something I can't tell by the narrative, she began to develop retinitis pigmentosa, a disease of the retina.
As a result of her blindness, her life actually started to turn around and she gives thanks to God for helping her through both her painful past and her new found strength. I just wish it has been a bit easier to follow her story in its written form.
I admire the fact McNeil went to the trouble to write her story if only because I know it was a cathartic experience for her. By her account she repeated many of the harmful abusive cycles she had experienced and witnessed as a child and teenager. At times through her narrative she reveals herself as the victim and sometimes as an unknowing abuser.
Ms. McNeil wrote her book to be an inspirational guidebook to transformation. It might be just that for some readers, but I have to say, inspiration was the last thing I found in reading "In the Midst of Pain."
As a former domestic violence advocate, I know how hard it is for women to break free from the patterns that chain them to a destructive lifestyle. Ms. McNeil was one of the lucky ones. She escaped and lived to tell about it.
I only wish, for her sake, that someone could have aided with her writing in order to help her achieve her goal of helping other people by the publishing of her story.
McNeil, who according to the introduction in her 111- page book, is currently planning to attend Columbia Basin College in Pasco. She plans some day to write another book. I wish her well on that venture.