Tag Archives: anger

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 Lulu.com.

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

Electronic review copy provided by the author.


My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
James 1:19-22, NIV*

This is good advice on how to coexist, but I think James has more in mind than treating one another well.

Listening, speaking, becoming angry: what struck me about these today is they’re all responses to people and situations. According to verse 20, our goal is to “bring about the righteous life that God desires,” and that’s not something we can impose on those around us or on the world as a whole.

Instead, James asks us to look inward, to work diligently on cleaning up our own lives. Take out the trash, whether it needs an industrial-sized garbage bag or a dustpan, and fill up with what’s good.

We can’t even do this on our own, but need to cooperate with and depend on the Holy Spirit. Why do we think we can force-clean someone else? But if we’re not careful, we’ll try.

It reminds me of Jesus’ words about taking the speck out of someone else’s eye when there’s a plank blocking our own sight.

Father, You designed us to live in community and to grow up spiritually together. Sometimes You let us see areas where another needs to grow. Help us to pray instead of judging, and to depend on Your Spirit’s clear leading about whether or not to speak. Please help us see the areas where You want to work in our own lives, and help us cooperate with You in the cleanup. We can’t thank You enough that You want to rescue us from the messes we’ve been in.

Let Steve Green‘s song, “Search Me, Oh God,” be our prayer today.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.