Hush Girl by Gloria Zachgo is a well-written novel so intimate it reads like a memoir. After the death of her father, memories and nightmares begin to re-emerge for main character Nicole Reed. These caused panic attacks, an inability to speak, mood swings and loosing of her grasp on reality. But what was her childhood reality? That is what Nicki both needs and fears to find.
Nicki and readers doubt her sanity as Gloria blurs memory, visions and nightmare. At the same time as the author takes us back into Nicki’s abusive past, we are led through her healing through counseling and family support. Although a long and difficult process, we see the healing value of counseling. Nicki is a writer within the novel, writing a mystery within a mystery, her writing modeling the author’s own writing process.
As a retired principal, I encountered children who had been abused. As difficult as it was for me to learn what had happened to them and then report to the proper agencies, there was much more anguish for these children. Through fear, threats and pain, they were forbidden to speak. Their abusers had engrained a culture of silence in them. I saw children who would not meet your eyes, who were angry or withdrawn, who flinched when touched and who shied away from relationships with teachers and fellow students.
The importance of family is at the core of this blended genre novel: mystery, thriller, suspense and romance, according to author Gloria Zachgo. “It was a joy to share Nicki’s story. She became as real to me as a good friend would be. I laughed with her and cried with her. Her journey was often painful and terrifying. Yet she knew if she were to find her own peace of mind, she had to find the truth of the secrets that had haunted her since she was a child.”
Abusive family members have an influence that is life long. Nicki tells her daughter, ”It’s a scar. The hurt’s been healed, but I’ll probably having the scar as a reminder.”
The healing process is strengthened by counseling and family, as also by Toby, the family dog. We all know the comfort that pets bring and Toby helps Nicki when she is filled with pain and insecurity. Gloria told me, “I grew up on a farm where I was surrounded by animals… I had a favorite milk cow, Dixie, who I sometimes rode, and a horse, Nellie, who I deemed as my best friend. I’ve included a dog into each novel I’ve written.”
Gloria wrote on her website about Nicki, “Her journey was often painful and terrifying. Yet she knew if she were to find her own peace of mind, she had to find the truth of the secrets that had haunted her since she was a child.”
Combining psychological terror and crime, Gloria has written a mystery that is taut and compelling. The strength and frustrations of Matt, Nicki’s husband, reveals the difficult support role that family members play in dealing with the every day trauma that abuse victims often suffer. Ultimately we see the parallels of the love of Nicki and her mother to Nicki’s love of her own children as the mystery is solved.
Glazed Orange Sweet Rolls
A sweet melt in your mouth roll that is perfect with breakfast, as an afternoon or midnight snack. The drizzled orange marmalade is a touch of tart with the cinnamon and sugar. Absolutely yummy.
Yield 2 dozen
2 cups all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup milk
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil or butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ cup sugar
½ cup raisins, optional
½ cup chocolate chips, optional
¼ cup marmalade, melted
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour and the yeast. Warm the milk, sugar, oil and salt. Add to flour and yeast mixture. Add 2 eggs and stir to mix.
- Beat at low speed with electric mixture for 1 minute. Beat 3 additional minutes at high speed or stir vigorously by hand.
- By hand, stir in 2 cups flour to make a moderately still dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning to cover dough with the oil.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place in a draft fee location and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. To make later in day, place in refrigerator for a few hour or overnight, then bring to room temperature and let rise.
- Punch down, divide in half and let rest for a few minutes.
- Roll one half into a rectangle that is approximately 12 X 8”. Brush dough with ½ the butter. Sprinkle with half the sugar and cinnamon. Add raisins and or chocolate chips if desired. Spread filling to ½” of the edge of the dough.
- Roll dough up starting with long side as for jelly roll and seal seam with you fingers, adding a little water if needed. Repeat with other piece of dough.
- With a sharp knife, slice each into piece about 12 times to make the rolls, about 1” each. Place rolls cut side down on a 9”X1 ½” greased round baking pan, leaving a small space between each roll for rising. Let rise for 30 minutes or until double.
- Bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes.
- Drizzle with marmalade and or confectioner’s sugar over warm rolls.
- Lower the sugar: Use Stevia for dough and cinnamon and sugar mixture, following package directions for amounts. Use sugar free chocolate chips or omit. Use sugar free marmalade for drizzle. Use sugar free confectioner’s sugar or omit.
- Dairy free: Use non-dairy milk, sugar as almond or soy milk, and use vegetable oil for dough.
- Autumn Sweet and Savory Rolls: Replace raisins with dried cranberries and add ½ cup chopped pecans with filling.
- Large rolls: For a larger roll, cut dough into 2” pieces.
Adapted from Homemade Bread Cook Book, Better Homes and Garden.
Learn more about author Gloria Zachgo and her award winning books at her WEBSITE