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'Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace'
Beverly Donofrio
Rating: W W W W W

“A tug on the sheet, a sinking weight on the mattress, my body buzzes like a field of bees as my eyes fly open to the last thing I want to see.”

Before Beverly Donofrio has time to think, her rapist is hovered above her, a knife to her neck. Seconds pass, and she begins to pray – an act that later becomes Beverly's literal saving grace.

“Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace,” is about survival. In a story of grace and courage to speak out after undergoing complete violation, Beverly takes readers on a journey of personal and spiritual meditation toward a path of forgiveness.

Before the brutal attack, Beverly was living a dream in her then vivacious community of San Miguel de Allende, Mex. She spent her days writing and nights in the pleasure of good company. But for months, something wicked had come to town – a serial rapist assaulting women in the night.

When Beverly became one of those women, her life was immediately interrupted. At first, she briefly hesitated on contacting the authorities. After all, her assailant was long gone and she could only hope that time would erase his face from her mind. But now, she would find courage. After months of not being caught and one woman, turning into two, then a handful in a blink, Beverly knew she could not remain silent. Good would triumph over evil.

Donofrio, who first gained success with her best-selling memoir, “Riding in Cars with Boys,” would not allow herself to be a victim, but a survivor. Just as she survived hardship before, she works through her pain with profound reflection. It is through her honest and funny eloquence that she demonstrates how compassion and forgiveness strengthened her faith in God and people.

In order to move forward and find solace, Beverly enters into numerous Catholic monasteries, spending each stay in solitude. The details of her experiences with seclusion are described thoroughly in the remainder of the work.

Abbot Pastor, Desert Father, once said: “If someone does evil to you, you should do good to him, so that by your good work you may destroy his malice.” This passage, which is noted in the memoir, encompasses much of Beverly's journey from question to reconciliation during her cloistering. As she notes, after a traumatic event, many people often ask, 'Why me?' The question itself lingers like the cycles of grief, taking one through every stage until the final end – acceptance.

As Beverly discloses her experience from the devastating beginning to the resolving end, she follows through in Desert Father's words, learning to fight evil not with malice, but with courage and forgiveness.

'Astonished: A Story of Evil, Blessings, Grace, and Solace' by Beverly Donofrio Rating: W W W W W


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