Title: The Mistreatment of Zora Langston (Paperback)
Author: Lisa W. Tetting
ISBN 13: 9780996142908
Published: March 15, 2015
Publisher: Lisa W. Tetting
Pages: 158 pages
Genre: Coming of Age, Young Adult, Drama, Fiction
“Zora Langston is nine years old when her father dies, leaving her in the hands of a mother who is anything but loving and siblings who never considered her family. Without her father, she is truly alone. Before the dirt has settled on her father’s grave, there’s a new man of the house, and he has no interest in being Zora’s father. Despite her hardships, Zora remains true and allows faith to help free her from this new, horrible life she’s found herself in. She finds solace in her aunt and uncle and, for the first time, starts to discover what it’s like to have a real family. However, just when she thinks she has escaped her tormentors, new abusers emerge, old ones return from hiding, and she must find the strength to survive.”
The Mistreatment of Zora Langston is a Coming of Age novel surrounding the abuse experienced by nine year old Zora Langston. Set in Goldsboro, North Carolina, there is so much to relate to and so much to learn in this powerful testimony of abuse, betrayal, and through it all the ability to still love and to be loved. Ironically, the cause of her father’s death becomes the epitome of tragedy for Zora in more ways than one. His enemies become hers and everywhere she turns, when it seems things are getting better, they only worsen. To start, Zora is not given the chance to mourn her father before her mother’s boyfriend moves in. Her mother, who is supposed to be her shinning example of womanhood and best friend, despises her very existence. Her sister burns with an intense jealousy, and her brother’s nonchalant attitude further illuminates Zora’s invisibility. As a result of continual physical and emotional abuse, she is sent to live with her Aunt Terri and Uncle Jim and for the first time gets to experience what it means to be happy and to have a family. I was excited to see her get excited at those little things that children love.
I think what makes this a moving piece is that it is told from the eyes of a nine year old. I did not expect Zora to endure what she did and the abuse she encountered is shocking. Children have a tendency to be very open and honest even in the midst of grown-up experiences, and Zora is no different. She approaches the situations of her youth with the same level of naïveté as most children. Yet, while Zora’s perspective is rightly child-like, the tragedies she endured makes her stronger and thus her reaction to the situations surrounding her is in many ways also mature, surprising the adults around her who are often taken aback.
What I found especially educational, is how the author incorporated the life lessons of Zora’s dad and the parenting of her Aunt and Uncle into the tragedies of her life, and how those lessons were used to strengthen Zora in the moments she needed them most. In this way, despite the hardships she encountered she was still capable of holding on to a level of innocence deserving of a nine year old. “I usually wore a swim cap…but that made me look like an alien” (pg. 102, Ch. 16) is just one of the many sayings of little Miss Zora that made me laugh out loud. I could have sworn I thought the same thing at her age!
The Mistreatment of Zora Langston is a book of shocking revelations, and raw emotion. As adults, I believe we have a lot to learn from children like Zora. It is not just a book about her, but we also get to see how adults view situations. How we stress over them, overcome them and react to them compared to how these same situations are viewed and experienced from the eyes of a child who is not yet an adult, but whose life is filled with adult themes. In this way, debut Author Lisa Tetting proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that “it’s not the love that hurts; its the denial of love.”
Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5
Entertainment Factor: 4/5
Authenticity / Believable: 5/5
Thought Provoking: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5