This Might Hurt

         

          While her sister Nat is successfully climbing the corporate ladder in Boston, Kit has embraced life on a remote Maine island where she enjoys the structure imposed by the leaders of Wisewood. For most, Wisewood is a temporary respite from the world—a place for self-improvement and a total immersion into life totally off the grid as they work at maximizing themselves. One of the requirements for anyone staying  there is having no contact with friends and family for the length of their stay and not using their computers and cell phones. Not that they easily could. As Nat quickly discovers, cell service on the island is practically non-existent.

           None of this daunts Kit who is fully committed to Wisewood. Still reeling from the death of her mother, she’s excited when she is asked to join the staff even though it means undergoing a ritualistic—and painful—hazing. And she’s less than happy when Nat shows up to check on her.

           For her part, Natalie senses the hostility of the staff from the beginning when she shows up to take the boat to the island. It only gets worse when she arrives. The rooms have no curtains and she constantly feels as though she’s being watched, her cell phone disappears, and she sees her sister seemingly controlled by Wisewood’s leader, a woman known as the Teacher.

          In her first novel, the USA Today bestseller Darling Rose Gold author Stephanie Wrobel explored the relationship between a mother and the daughter that she had systematically made ill for the attention and praise it got her.

          “For this book I wanted to take a deeper look at cults and what makes them so appealing,” says Wrobel about her second novel, the aptly named This Might Hurt. “If you dive deep enough, you find the shades, it’s not all black and white. I think the major commonality when it comes to cults is that people are searching.”

          Told from three different points of view—Kit, Nat, and an unidentified woman who was psychologically and physically abused by a demanding sadistic father—Wrobel, who is from Chicago but is now living in England, shows us how each character developed and what led them to the island. And, what, ultimately happens to all three when the time comes to make choices.

Darling Rose Gold

         Poor Patty Watts. She did everything she could for her daughter Rose Gold who was confined to a wheelchair, allergic to everything and struggled with an unbelievable number of health issues beginning at birth. Patty couldn’t work because she devoted herself to her daughter’s care. Luckily neighbors were kind, holding fundraisers and helping Patty anyway they could. She was described as a supermom.

         Only she wasn’t. Instead, she was constantly feeding Rose Gold ipecac, making her vomit and manipulating doctors like getting one to put the two-year-old girl on a feeding tube and then not giving her the amount of food she needed. All this was to ensure that Rose Gold would remain gravely ill. When she was discovered, Patty went from a hero to prison, where she spent five years for aggravated child abuse. Rose Gold, in the meantime, had a child and learned to live on her own. Then Patty was released from prison and needed a place to live. Would Rose take her in? And what would happen when she did?

         That’s the question Chicago native Stephanie Wrobel asks in her recently released book, “Darling Rose Gold,” a tense thriller that opens with Rose Gold picking her mother up from prison.

         Wrobel was intrigued by stories told by her best friend, a school psychologist, about Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP).

         “The mother-daughter bond is supposed to be sacred,” says Wrobel, in a phone call from England where she has lived for the last few years. “But that’s not the case in MSBP, a mental health disorder where a caregiver fakes or induces illness in the person they’re taking care of. The more research I did on the subject, the more fascinated and appalled I became. In most cases, the perpetrators are mothers acting out of a need for attention or love from authority figures within the medical community.” 

         Wanting to get into the head of both the victim and the perpetrator, Wrobel tells the story of mother and daughter from both points of view. Patty, it seems, has developed such an impenetrable armor, she’s unable to see the evil she’s done. Rose Gold, tougher now, wants to pay back those who have done her harm. But, as they say, it’s complicated.

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