Close to the Soul

Coming May 2021  CLOSE TO THE SOUL BY Mary Jo Thayer

Through grit and grace, Carolyn Fandel survives being raped by someone she knows and trusts. She will not accept defeat—even when confronted by her rapist a second time. Instead, she uses her tragedy to help hundreds of others, some of whom she will never meet. Set in the era of the Vietnam War and the new feminism, this book will have you crying and cheering for Carolyn as she navigates the challenges of life after sexual assault.

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She turned the corner into the kitchen, all but forgetting that this morning was her special time. Then she saw that the sewing machine had already been set up. The fabric choices and scissors were methodically laid out with the pattern they had previously selected. Her heart took an even deeper nosedive and dropped to the pit of her gut.

Her mom sat sipping her coffee, waiting with an enormous smile of Dana Fandel enthusiasm. Her rosary was lying on top of the Bible. It was cracked open to Romans, Carolyn’s favorite book of the New Testament. Carolyn heaved a heavy sigh. Lord, I can’t do this.

On the table was a plate of raisin bran muffins, pats of butter, and a prepared half-grapefruit with sugar on top—components of Carolyn’s favorite breakfast. Her throat gulped as she forced a smile of appreciation toward her mother.

It was unconvincing. Her mom took one glimpse at her face and could tell it was serious. “What is it, Doll?” As soon as Carolyn heard the term of endearment, she began to weep.

Her mother stood up and drew Carolyn into her arms. While she sobbed, her mom whispered, “No matter what it is, everything will be okay.” Her mom continued to hold her, peppering her with questions trying to get to the bottom of it. “Were you not able to get your classes for the fall semester?”


“Did you and Paul decide to call off your special friendship?”


She dreaded having to tell her mother. The longer the interrogation went on, the more Carolyn was tempted to turn away, bolt out the door, and never come back.

“Carolyn, something is wrong. I have known it since the night of the dance. You will feel better if you tell me.”

Oh, no, I won’t.

“Whatever it is, we can fix it.”

Oh, no, we can’t.