Review: Tooth for Tooth, a novel by Kimberley J. Payne

Tooth for Tooth, a novel by Kimberley J. Payne

Heather Williams is doing okay with the single-motherhood thing, she’s happy in her job, and her attractive boss is a bonus. Life is good—until she discovers her estranged husband has been sexually abusing their young daughter.

Sick with horror, she does her best to get help for Caitlin (Caity-Cat) and to keep her safe. Of course Caitlin’s father denies the truth and wants her weekend visits to continue.

Heather navigates a maze of community service, medical and legal systems, and although she doesn’t always like their methods, she does find some compassionate people who can help. At the same time, she’s dealing with both guilt (Catilin had tried to tell her a few years earlier) and anger at the man who could do this to anyone, let alone his own child.

Supportive family and friends, including her charming boss, keep her sane, and she’s surprised to find even more strength through a local Bible study.

This is a novel I hesitated to read because of the subject matter, but although what happened to Caitlin and her mom is troubling, author Kimberley Payne doesn’t go into traumatic details of the abuse.

The story gave me more insight and understanding into a situation nobody should ever experience but far too many do. It also reaffirmed what I’d sensed from a few people who’ve expressed similar—or worse—experiences: as traumatic as it is, there is hope for healing.

Kimberley Payne deals frankly with questions such as “Why, God? Where were You?” and with issues of anger, guilt and forgiveness.

Her strength is in non-fiction, and there are writing elements of Tooth for Tooth that could be stronger, but she has a keen sense of detail and an eye for descriptions. She also makes Heather’s and Caitlin’s struggle come alive. When I was away from the story for a day, I kept wondering how they were.

The subject matter is dark, but Tooth for Tooth offers insight and hope. The author’s deft use of humour keeps the tone balanced, and this short novel is a good—and fairly quick—read.

Canadian author Kimberley Payne is better known for her “Fit for Faith” books and workshops. Tooth for Tooth is her first work of fiction. It’s available to read (for free!) online at the Tooth for Tooth blog. Those who prefer hard copy can order Tooth for Tooth through

For more about the author, visit her website, Within Reach.

Electronic review copy provided by the author.

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