The Year of Loving
By Traci L. Slatton
Traci L. Slatton’s novel, The Year of Loving is a contemporary piece of romance fiction written from the perspective of Sarah Paige, a twice-divorced gallery owner with two daughters who is living in New York City. When we meet Sarah, she’s facing a particularly challenging, complicated time in her life. Her gallery is struggling to make ends meet, her best friend has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, her oldest daughter refuses to speak to her, and her other daughter is rebelling with drugs and alcohol. To really complicate things, Sarah meets not one, but two men that both vie for her affections as she tries to deal with the turmoil currently in her life.
Slatton is an established best-selling author of romantic, paranormal and historical novels, as well as a regular contributor to publications including The Huffington Post.
Whilst this most recent of Slatton’s novels is romantic fiction, it expertly deals with parental alienation as Sarah struggles to connect with her daughters, both of whom have been turned against her by her ex-husband George.
Slatton is no stranger to parental alienation, having written on the topic for The Huff and other publications. As I read Sarah’s turbulent travails through parental alienation, I felt that Slatton demonstrates a keen awareness of the frustration, pain, disbelief and helplessness that an alienated parent can experience.
A pivotal moment in the book is when Sarah is first introduced to the academic concept of parental alienation and realizes that she has, in fact, been a victim of it for years. “Subtly or not, he implied to your children that you were the reason for their pain. You’re the bad parent. It’s your fault. At the same time, he insisted that you didn’t matter, that your feelings didn’t matter, and that your values were unimportant. Your children internalized his anger and resentment toward you and that, along with the seductive ‘do whatever you want’ message, led them to reject you.”
Sarah’s experiences with her daughters will resonate deeply with readers who have dealt with parental alienation. It also reinforces that no one is immune to this treatment and behavior. Sarah portrays many exemplary qualities one would want in a mother – she is intelligent, successful, loving, and responsible – but she has to constantly fight to prove that she is worthy of her children’s love.
This book is also much more than just one mother’s experiences of parental alienation. It is a story of a fiercely independent, funny and admirable woman who’s trying to be true to herself even as new and old relationships throw up unexpected challenges and experiences at every turn. Her romantic triangle between the young oncologist Scott and the older, gallant Carl provides a welcome distraction for the reader from the heartache of parental alienation. A number of times I inwardly applauded Sarah for throwing caution to the wind and living life on her terms – which must be particularly empowering when exes make it their remit to ensure you don’t have that opportunity with your own children.
“. . . I had the wisp of the thought that maintaining my own courage and happiness was the most loving and beneficial thing I could do for my daughters. Someday, each in her own way, they would face a reckoning. Someday they’d have to look within themselves and face the internalized pieces of me, the bad mommy, the mommy their father and stepmother had dehumanized and demonized so relentlessly. When that day came, if I was still me, still filled with the wonder and exuberance of life, Dani and Alex would learn something and grow.”
Slatton has crafted a wonderfully engaging, intelligent romance novel that expertly weaves parental alienation through the prose, both highlighting and addressing just how disarming, devastating and unjust parental alienation is.
"A wonderfully engaging, intelligent romance novel that expertly weaves parental alienation through the prose."
summer 2017 PSG 23