Childhood trauma can have long-term negative effects on a child’s physical and emotional health. But there is positive news. Parental understanding, recognition of symptoms, consistent validation of feelings, and providing psychological help can help your child heal and even thrive.
The three novels below are important and timely reminders of both the heartbreaking impact of childhood trauma and the surprising resilience that can reside within.
“The Children’s Blizzard” by Melanie Benjamin is an extraordinarily powerful and breathtaking look at the devastating tragedy of the 1888 blizzard that cut across the Dakota and Nebraska territories.
The morning of Jan 12th, 1888 actually started out a bit mild, and the residents of the Dakotas, Minnesota and Nebraska went about life as they often did. Children walked to their one-room schoolhouses and parents tended to their farms. There was no indication of the brutal cold front and the monstrous snowstorm that would take hundreds of lives in the hours ahead. Two young first-generation Norwegian American sisters, Gerda, and Raina Olsen are in charge of two separate schoolhouses as the dark clouds descend. These young women make two very different choices that will forever impact the lives of both their young students and themselves.
“Only Child: A Novel” by Rhiannon Navin is a poignant and intensely intimate glimpse into the heart and mind of a boy and his parents as they struggle with the grief and anger of a school shooting.
Zach is 6 years old and is struggling mightily with the scary memories of the school shooting that took the life of his 10-year-old brother, Andy. With much pain and much wisdom, Zach shares his childlike reflections of grief, abandonment, regret and even anger at Andy for having been mean to him a lot. Zach shows us there is no going around the pain, but he offers a fresh voice and a 6-year-old’s heartfelt plan to get the family through their darkest hour.
“The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell” by Robert Dugoni is an inspiring, sensitive, and compelling account of a young boy’s journey into manhood as he struggles with life’s unfairness.
Sam Hill is born with ocular albinism, which produces red pupils. He is nicknamed “Devil Boy” by most of his peers at Catholic school and regularly abused and beaten up by age 6. But his mother tells Sam that it is “God’s will” and he will do extraordinary things. Her words provide little comfort, but he perseveres and makes friends with two other outcast classmates. One boy is black and the other is a girl with a difficult home life. By the time Sam is 40, he has worked hard and become a small-town eye doctor but the question remains whether he will ever find his place in the world and some true measure of happiness.