Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor’s Story
Lynn C. Tolson
Reviewed by Anne Holmes for the NABBW
This is one of those “can’t put it down” thrillers. It even begins with a “dark and stormy night:”
“That night, December 20, 1978, the radio reported the most rain in Phoenix in one hundred years. Broadcasters called it the flood of the century. While I was driving, I listened to reports of accumulated rainfall and road closures. “Stay off the streets,” the announcer warned. The wet pavement reflected the colored holiday lights that adorned cactus. Seasonal garlands, heavy with the weight of rainwater, drooped to the gutters. Carols interrupted newscasts, followed by the countdown: “Only four shopping days left until Christmas.” I felt a pressure as intense as the rain that pounded the windshield.
“I sipped from the Michelob that rested between my legs, and then lit a cigarette. The cough of a nasty cold rattled my chest. As I passed gas stations and convenience stores, I could not decide whether or not to fill the empty gas tank. It was too dark to stop, too cold to get out, too wet to pump. My T-shirt and bra were soaked through to my skin, and the denim jacket and jeans provided no warmth. The heater vents blew warm currents of air, but I still shivered.
“In a trance, I drove until the high beams of my Chevy formed a solitary tunnel of light. The roads were as dark as the thoughts driving me to an undetermined destination. The vehicle transporting me through the desolate desert was as isolated as the body that entrapped me on earth. I longed to be on the other side, in another realm…”
But this book is not a novel.
It is Tolson’s true story of her tortured life, marked by dysfunctional family relationships, domestic violence, sexual abuse and mental illness.
Tolsen’s introductory chapter continues, telling the reader of her decision to stop at a motel, where she takes a room, paying with cash and crawls into the bed, where she proceeds to wash down a collection of prescription pills she has been hoarding – ninety Darvon, thirty Tylenol with Codeine, fifty Percodan, one hundred Serex, plus Dalmane and Compazine – with the remains of her beer. Then she lay back and waited for death.
But surprise! A couple of paragraphs later, she is being revived and taken to the emergency room.
From there, the reader follows her through counseling. During the therapeutic process, we learn what led Lynn to that fateful night.
Thankfully the story has a happy ending. As Tolson tells the reader in the Epilogue, “I’m still here.”
You’ll want to read this book for the message of hope at the end. And because it is an inspirational story, full of hope for anyone reading it who has been in a similar situation.
These days Tolson is a social worker, and a woman on a mission to shed a light on this sort of abuse, so that we can put an end to domestic violence. She lives in Colorado with her husband and two dogs.