This writer is looking for an agent.
Rebecca Chianese is a social worker with a background in treating children and teens who have survived sexual abuse and an author of two novels (well-received by readers) Mercy (2017) and Unspoken (2021) both with the small but mighty Mt. Nittany Press. She is currently hard at work on her third novel. Rebecca grew up in Brooklyn and now lives in the Hudson Valley. Walking along the Hudson River is where her characters come to life and boss her around until she tells their stories. Follow her on Instagram @rebecca_chianese to find out how the book is coming along and the new and creative ways she is procrastinating!
Some Reviews from Readers:
What a graceful way to tackle a lot of tough topics. Rebecca Chianese is an artist with words and truly knows how to paint a vivid picture. From the first few sentences it was possible for me to step into the pages and to become an observer, rather than a reader.
While I think the first half of the book was maybe a bit slower than the second half, I appreciated the way each of the four characters and their families and goings-on were introduced in an individual chapter, allowing for a better grip on the various story lines.
So in the first half we slowly but surely get to understand the daily struggles of each of the four main characters, as well as their relationships with one another and their families. To me, this ultimately helped me better understand their individual reactions to the happenings in the main plot line. And once that main plot line started to develop, everything seemed to spin out of control rapidly and I was truly invested to find out what would happen next.
Overall, I think the author has a graceful way to describe the delicate issue of (sexual) abuse, wrapping it with important conversations about grief, healing, faith, friendship and motherhood. This book gave me a lot to chew on." Denise, goodreads
"Unspoken is a story with themes that spoke to me so very loudly. Writing a novel about sexual abuse is something not everyone can achieve. Rebecca Chianese doesn't write a gruesome story with unnecessary graphic details for shock value, but she doesn't shy away from the reality of it either. While my heart was breaking, I didn't have to stop reading or skip a few pages for my own mental health. This is contemporary, because it's unfortunately to this day the horror many have endured (and still do, every day somewhere in the world). Because we're still living in a world where the truth is too often unspoken and buried so deep inside the subconscious. The journey to finding the truth give us other important themes. Friendship, families dynamics (especially mother/daughter relationship), and how something can involve and impact everyone forever.
This story begins with the introduction of four women, different in every way except motherhood and book club. But when the mental health of one daughter once happy becomes concerning without anyone being able to find out why, their lives will become more connected, especially as her best friend is the daughter of another women from book club. What happened to her and how is it connected to any other character? The bond between those women as they try to find out the reason behind one of the daughter's behavior was well-written and empowering, and the fact they're so different from one another gives the place to some dialogues that are a welcomed break while reading this book, without too much amusing moments that would feel like the main theme isn't taken seriously. Because it truly is, and I've never read a better fiction about it.
Is this novel perfect? No. But I didn't care for its imperfections, which is how I know a book is a new favorite. I would definitely love for everyone to read it, even though my review is very short. I feel like I have so much to say about this book, but I cannot find the words to express how I feel. What I can say is that this review was written by someone who's known sexual abuse, dissociation and self-harm and that I thank the author for writing Unspoken. If you've been a victim of sexual assault or witnessed someone being the victim of sexual assault, please reach out to someone. Another theme of this book is that the journey to healing is possible once the silence has been broken." Catherine, Goodreads
"Imagine a happy, healthy child who quite suddenly becomes shy and reclusive. Her best friend is somehow involved. And her mother is totally puzzled, at first, finding no reason for her daughter's sudden change or the distressing new cutting habit she's adopted. What's a concerned mother to do?
Investigate, of course. And what she finds is eye-opening.
Hannah's mother Alicia Calding has spent her life making sure her daughter's world is dream-like perfection, from the beautiful bedroom Hannah inhabits to creating perfect meals for her family. She's involved in other things, too, like her book club, so her family focus isn't singular and she feels she's being realistic in her ambitions and focus: "This, she knew, was her best character attribute; the genuine desire to make others comfortable and happy. Alecia, however, possessed enough self-awareness to understand the pitfalls — the terror — of coming up short."
When Alicia discovers that she has failed her daughter in an epic and frightening way, she hatches a scheme of redemption that involves not only her family, but an innocent spectator who also suffers from a dangerous discovery.
Unspoken is a riveting, emotionally astute, unsettling story of abuse's ripple effect on family and community. It delves not just into secrets, but how they are perpetuated and their widespread impact.
It also probes damaged mother/daughter relationships, ideals reconsidered and found lacking, and two families who find that tragedy entwines them in unexpected ways, eventually involving the entire community in a conundrum fostered by a single man's choices.
Rebecca Chianese does an outstanding job of contrasting the rationales of two different mothers and their daughters. She does cursorily explain the male's perceptions, but the main focus is on the women of the community and their involvements with one another. The contrast between two mothers who hold very similar values and their different methods of tackling their daughters' challenges is nicely outlined, as are each mother's desire to recover from trauma, themselves, albeit in different ways: "She wanted, more than anything, a couple of hours to be alone in her house, away from other people and the burden of fixing them. A trait she knew, people desired from her and despised her for."
Unspoken crafts a drama that builds, then evolves. It begins with the issue of self-injury and its rationale and moves into unexpected circles of confrontation, redemption, and change. Unspoken is an outstanding story that lingers in the mind long after its reading and is especially recommended for women's fiction readers and those who enjoy stories of contemporary mother/daughter relationships, community connections and struggles, and accounts of predators and their impact upon all."
~D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer Midwest Book Review
Good book club choice about some hard-to-discuss topics
Reviewed in the United States on October 28, 2021
"This is not a book that I would typically have chosen on my own but we read it for our book club. It ended up being a good choice because (a) it pushed me to read something I might not have otherwise and (b) the author joined our book club discussion and gave me an even better appreciation for the story and the choices the various characters make. True to its name, Unspoken deals with issues that many of us don't usually talk about (sexual abuse, self harm, etc) about but probably occur more often than we'd like to think. The book is a good way to learn about uncomfortable issues and choosing it for book club will allow you to discuss these uncomfortable (horrible, tragic, enraging, sad) topics with your friends. The fact that the book focuses on a four women in a book club was fun and provided for some light moments in story about a heavy subject.
As for those who criticize this book for being "too political" I'd say making mention of exact quotes from our former president does not make a book political.... unless you are pro-sexual abuse?? Our book club has people from a range of political viewpoints and event the most conservative among us did not find the book too political.
Tip: reach out to the author through goodreads or other social media and invite her to your book club. She was an engaging speaker and added a lot to our discussion."
~lovetoread on amazon
A gripping, suspenseful, heart-wrenching page turner with a powerful message
Reviewed in the United States on July 7, 2021
"From page you are immediately transported into the world of Alecia, Ivy, Thia, and Fiona. The words flew off of the page and began to play out like scenes from a beautifully shot and directed film. Ms. Chianese's writing is such that I could smell their homes, visualize the threads on their clothes, hear their distinct laughter, and feel their tension and shock as the unthinkable unfolded.
The characters are flawed in a way that makes them relatable, not unlikeable - we all know an Alecia, Ivy, Thia, and Fiona. Their different perspectives, strengths, and flaws keeps the narrative dimensional and moving. The inner thoughts and feelings of Chloe and Hannah, the tween daughters of Alecia and Fiona are all at once filled with innocence, the loss of it, and an authenticity of voice that I think is a real triumph.
Without divulging plot points or digging into the themes, Unspoken is a story that touches on issues that are horrifying in the sense that we know they are all too real and all too often kept quiet, still. Despite the hard subject matter, the writing makes you want to listen, lean in, and leaves you with a sense of strength and hope for the future." ~Kim N. on Amazon
"This one makes you think.
It could happen to anyone, anywhere.
It's time to break the cycle and allow girls and women to speak out.
With characters you definitely can relate to or even resemble.
Get this book, and a glass (ok maybe a bottle) of wine. Settle in and be prepared." ~Jenieeisme on Amazon
"This book is the champion for all of the children who were sexually abused when the abuse was hidden, subtle or was not discovered/acknowledged. This is for all the adults who sometimes wonder if the things they remember could have really happened, regardless of the fact that their bodies don’t forget.
The characters were believable and relatable, and aside from the powerful message, it was a great read! Intriguing and inspiring, it kept me turning pages.
As a survivor of abuse, this book helped me frame my abuse experience from a different perspective and uncover/heal something that I didn’t even know was still inside of me.
As a trauma therapist, this book will definitely be recommended reading for my clients, as it is a powerful tool to approach the topic of sexual abuse and facilitate the healing process.
I highly recommend Unspoken!" ~Erika Nelson