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Laura Strobel
Accountability: Facing the truth to discover self-empowerment

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

Accountability is the true account of perseverance through a terrible ordeal that evolves into an inspiring, enlightening experience. Told in three parts, in the beginning Aurora only registers Shock at what has happened to her. Then Denial shields her from seeing or believing that there could be any correlation between what she’s learning in the mandatory classes she’s attending and her own life. Finally Aurora gains insight and Acceptance of her own Accountability as she learns about the dynamics of cause and effect, the fact that we all must be accountable for our own actions and that we are responsible for our own happiness.
Blending elements of memoir and self-help, this ultimately hopeful debut digs into the author’s experience of being accused of committing domestic violence, her enrollment in a mandatory Domestic Violence Prevention program, and her own journey towards accountability–or “accepting responsibility for yourself and your actions.” In a bizarre incident one evening, after he slaps their toddler son, Aurora strikes her husband with “fierce viciousness,” drawing blood. Stunned, she dials emergency services but hangs up before the call goes through. Sometime later, the events take a darkly farcical turn when she is arrested for assault, kept in jail for two days, and eventually allowed to return home, contingent on her completion of a 26-week diversion class.

Strobel tells the story in the third-person, assuming the name Aurora, a choice that creates distance between author, protagonist, and reader. The sense that this all seemed to be happening to someone else is exacerbated as Accountability recounts Aurora’s experience of the DVP classes, where she feels like an outsider, telling herself that, never having experienced intimate partner violence, she’s not one of "those" women. Her descriptions of what happens in the classes is valuable, as she shares valuable insights gained through the information shared in each session and recounts moving from states of shock and denial toward acceptance.

Though interesting, the author’s account of her arrest, detention, and release could have benefited from tighter editing. Although Aurora herself may not have believed that she truly needed these diversion classes, the startling lessons she encountered will be eye-opening for readers, as they continually circle back to accountability and empowerment as methods of breaking cycles of violence. It reinforces that domestic violence is ubiquitous and those who don’t experience it are indeed lucky. This story will resonate with readers who have experienced domestic violence as well as those just seeking a safer world.

Takeaway: This memoir of an “outsider” facing mandatory domestic violence prevention classes recounts a journey toward acceptance.

Great for fans of: Nicole Strycharz’s The Love that Hurts, Adwoa Akhu’s Metamorphosis.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A