Kirkus Reviews, Review of the book, "11th Commandment" by Mark Christensen.
Christensen, Mark A.
CreateSpace (188 pp.)
$16.00 paperback, $16.00 e-book
March 5, 2012
In his debut novel, Christensen imagines a new parent’s struggle to prevent his abusive childhood from negatively affecting his own parenting.
This compelling work should be praised most for Christensen’s structural choice. Told via flashbacks, the novel presents each episode as a stop in the narrator’s various childhood neighborhoods. Every destination opens the door to the past,
Illuminating the darkness of verbal and physical abuse, which at the time was an accepted aspect of his childhood. As an adult, main character Keith Herman understands that the relationships he endured with his mother, stepfather and
Grandfather was more than momentary injustices—they have lifelong implications for him. The setup serves as a metaphorical and literal vehicle for Keith to revisit and deconstruct the traumas of his past. In doing so, he hopes to
Understand himself what he’s been through so he can end the cycle of abuse. Christensen is explicit in his description
of the abuse Keith endured, often uncomfortably so. By choosing a first-person narration, the author steeps the reader in each violent act suffered by the main character. The inherent tension of this type of conflict makes for a compelling read;
While it is evident the narrative was composed
with care, it is a well-constructed cautionary tale of the problems facing families trapped in generational patterns of abuse.
Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media LLC, 6411 Burleson Rd., Austin, TX 78744
Natinal review by Sara Disbrow of I Universe publishing:
At first, the title seems reflective of religious fiction. But, the meaning of the title becomes clear early on, and the reader understands. Overall, it’s a great title and will be enticing to readers. The first page/chapter of the book is definitely engaging. It hooks the reader in and sweeps her along. The premise of the manuscript is, sadly, very believable. Millions of readers are intimately familiar with the kind of abuse Keith experiences, and the struggle he goes through to rise above it. The tone, facts and information, and language level are all appropriate for the genre. Overall, the premise is appealing and well executed. The author has done very well with POV in this story. He chose to use the first person POV and tell the story through Keith’s eyes. This immediately brings the reader into the mind of Keith as a victim of child abuse. POV is used consistently, and is the perfect choice for the story. This is a well-structured novel. The book ends so powerfully. Overall, though, the plot and structure hold the reader’s interest. The author uses setting well. He describes not only the physical landscape but the emotional setting as well. The reviewer wishes that she could say that the characterization is unrealistic. She wishes that she could say that the author exaggerated the kind of abuse that Keith experienced, and that no one would realistically hurt a child in these ways.
Alas, she cannot say that. The author has done an extraordinary job of bringing these characters to life. The reader feels what Keith feels—the fear, the anger, the shame, and the pain.
It’s emotionally wrenching for the reader, but others who have experienced similar kinds of abuse will find the journey cathartic. The author has done a great job of not only creating realistic dialogue, but also conveying the tone and emotion behind it. Content: Does the story have narrative drive, emotional power, or original voice? It most definitely has all three. Are the characters believable? Sadly, the characters are very believable. Does the dialogue sound authentic? Yes, it does. Execution: Does the story have sufficient commercial pace and appeal or literary value? The story has strong literary value, as it rises above the descriptions of abuse to promote ―The 11th Commandment.‖ Quality of Writing: Is the writing on an appropriate level for the target audience to engage the reader for its own sake? The author is a very talented writer who has an engaging writing style. The author is to be commended in his writing of this book. It must have been incredibly difficult to write the scenes of abuse. Sara Desbrow.