Review: Believe Like a Child by Paige Dearth

Alessa is just seven years old when her uncle rapes her for the first time. As the years pass, his sexual appetite becomes more voracious and his perversion more twisted, until the abuse has become almost a daily ritual, with the unspoken involvement of the girl's mother.
At the age of sixteen, after the death of her only friend, Alessa finds herself at the mercy of her real-life monster, with no relief in sight. She flees her home to escape this hell, only to find herself descending into a more dangerous one. Alone and helpless in the streets of North Philadelphia, she encounters more human predators who want to take over her life and devour her. About to hit rock bottom, Alessa manages to break away from her new tormentors and finds refuge in a shelter for homeless and abused women.
Wherever she goes, however, trouble keeps seeking her out, until she meets three people who change the course of her life forever. Though Alessa's bittersweet journey is perpetually fraught with challenges, she does, nevertheless, manage to find fleeting moments of joy along the way. But as she begins to settle down, a ghost from the past comes to haunt her again, threatening to destroy the very foundation of her small world and plunging her back into an abyss of despair, until she makes her final bid for escape.

I received this book via Netgalley to give an honest review.

The first thing that got me was the cover. The way it looked I knew it would be heartbreaking, then I read the blurb and knew that this book was not going to go from heartbreaking to happiness. It was going to be tragedy all around.

The book started off powerful. When we start getting into the rape of Alessa and the graphic of it all my heart sank. I literally had to put the book down for a minute on more than one occasion just so I could breath. For any child or hell even a person to go through something like this and still live is just a miracle all itself.  

Alessa it seems has had a bad hand dealt to her since she was born. Having to share the same toothbrush without toothpaste with her sister, having hand me down clothes that really don't fit to not being loved by her own mother. 
When Alessa finally gets on on her own she thinks she will be okay but it is more of she ends up finding herself in a terrible situation again. She ends up raped on more than one occasion, she is beaten her spirit is broken. But then she sees a light at the end of the tunnel with Ebby. Ebby is a therapist who works at a shelter for young people. She takes Alessa under her wing and tries to build her self-esteem after Alessa finally opens up to what she has had to go through her whole life. 
When Alessa literally becomes homeless and learns how the homeless take care of each other it is amazing. Especially when she looks after a young child named Lucy. Lucy has her own sad background and it breaks your heart as well. I think for Alessa Lucy was the one that helped her get through things and made her realize that she can have a better life. Then the unthinkable thing happens to Alessa again she is raped only to save Lucy but this goes far beyond rape. 
But the light that comes from this horrible act is that Alessa is able to find happiness by finding a man who loves her despite her past. She meets a man and you would think that they would have a happily ever after happen. Far from it. There is no happy ending with this story. But the ending I thought would come out the way it did and I was glad for the outcome that Alessa had. It shows that she was greatly cared for and touched so many lives. We see how Alessa grows as a person but her past will never leave her no matter what happiness she finds for herself. It is quite sad.
The only thing I would have liked to have known is about Rhonda's mother. She helped Alessa escape and Alessa attempted to stay in touch, but she was never invited to the wedding. She was never told how good Alessa was doing and I wondered why. I wish the author would have added more into the story about that. 

This story is raw, disturbing and honestly is not for the faint of heart. This story will tug at your heartstrings and if you have children will make you want to hug them and show them love even more. Because you know that out there is always a child who is being hurt in some way. I think the way this author told the story was greatly done. You could actually feel the feelings that Alessa was going though and it made you want to reach in within the story and give her a hug.

Paige Dearth
Born and raised in Plymouth Meeting, a small town west of Philadelphia, Paige Dearth was a victim of child rape and spent her early years yearning for a better life. To escape the unwanted attentions of her molester, a pedophile uncle who lived with the family, she married at the age of nineteen and moved with her new husband to Chula Vista, California. After two years of marriage during which she struggled to make ends meet, she became pregnant, only to discover that her husband was a heroin addict. Paige waited for the birth of her daughter and when the baby was just eight months old, moved back to Pennsylvania. With no formal education or money to fall back on, she courageously set out to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and make it whole once more.
Living through the fear and isolation of her youth, Paige developed the ability to create stories that would help her cope and finally put them to use by embarking on a series of novels. BELIEVE LIKE A CHILD, the author’s debut offering, is the darkest version of who she could have become, had fate not intervened in the nick of time.
WHEN SMILES FADE Paige’s second novel is a tale of endurance, perseverance, courage and the overwhelming desire of one child to fight back.
Paige’s novels always present a fine balance between what lives on in her imagination and the evil that lurks in the real world.


“When your mind is quiet and you listen closely, you will hear the children weeping silently. If you can’t quite hear their cries, then listen with your eyes. These are the children of the streets, who have learned pain and suffering before they ever had a chance to experience life. Do not ignore their cries for help, for all they wish is that you will rescue them. They do not have a family that wants them, they don’t know how it feels to be loved and they’ve never lived anywhere that felt like home…the streets are where they find their voice and relief from all of the suffering.
Just listen and you’ll see them.”
~Paige Dearth


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