Ginny L. Yttrup --- an author, speaker and life coach who ministers to women wounded by sexual trauma --- won great acclaim with her first novel, WORDS. Now she is back with another stellar work of fiction that reads like real life…unfortunately too close to real life for many people. In LOST AND FOUND, Yttrup moves away from the theme of sexual abuse that marked her previous effort, which gave readers a depth of understanding from a child’s point of view of how abuse scars and reframes a life. Here, she tackles another difficult problem: emotional abuse. Of course, readers will automatically assume that she has built her storyline around a weak female protagonist who suffers abuse from her overbearing spouse. Wrong. She demonstrates quite eloquently that abuse can come at the hands of anyone, anytime, anywhere.
"Yttrup surely delivers the goods on every page of this emotionally provocative work of fiction, which is beautifully depicted and captivating from start to finish.... [She] succeeds in defining emotional abuse and then dismantling it through wise choices, divine grace, and plain good sense."
Yttrup develops LOST AND FOUND around the once vibrantly alive Jenna Bouvier, who had everything --- beauty, family, wealth. Then, somewhere along the road to adulthood, Jenna’s eventual mother-in-law, Brigitte Bouvier, took her captive body and soul. Through the subtlest of manipulations, Brigitte first identified Jenna’s beauty and potential as the perfect spouse for her son, Gerard. She skillfully played the mother role to young Jenna and, when the time was right, “arranged” the marriage for Jenna and Gerard. Once Brigitte had “ensnared” Jenna, so to speak, her emotional abuse became more obvious…and confusing. Jenna would repeatedly ask herself if she was crazy. Didn’t Brigitte once demonstrate constancy and love toward her? Did Jenna have a debt to repay to this woman who indeed guided her through adolescence and into adulthood?
Questions and tormenting emotions plague Jenna because, like many victims of emotional abuse, the abuser so aptly entwines good and evil that it become nearly impossible to separate the mire of emotional responses. Jenna’s loving husband, Gerard, is himself no match for his mother, so any help from that quarter has been lost long ago. Jenna, wounded though she is, finds great solace in her faith in Christ. She escapes whenever she can to the park, where she sees a friend who introduces her to spiritual director Matthew. The two begin to meet and find an interesting camaraderie develop as Matthew asks Jenna questions that help free her from her distorted reality.
The journey from dark to light is slow-going (which makes this an utterly believable read). Often Jenna herself wants to hurry the changes and make a break for it when an opportunity presents itself. But again, Yttrup writes fiction like life, and allows the dark to get far more intense before the light comes. Jenna’s husband dies a sudden death, and Brigitte and Jenna must work through that loss while living under the same roof. Jenna does indeed continue to work out her pain through words as she pens an anonymous blog that draws in friends and foes alike. Writing out her struggles and publishing them is one of Jenna’s first offensive stands against Brigitte’s abuse; each time she writes, Jenna is a bit freer.
Yttrup surely delivers the goods on every page of this emotionally provocative work of fiction, which is beautifully depicted and captivating from start to finish. Readers will find themselves relating to Jenna’s struggles in coming to terms with the Christian mandate to love one’s enemies and yet not allow one to be utterly destroyed by them. Yttrup succeeds in defining emotional abuse and then dismantling it through wise choices, divine grace, and plain good sense.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on May 23, 2012