Novel: THE PROCESS OF FRAYING
AUTHOR: Jess Neal Woods
Publisher: Independently Published
Genre: Literature & Fiction > Historical > Family Life > Mental Health
Page Count: 444 pages
Purchase from Amazon
My Rating: 5 STARS
Author’s Bio (From Author’s Website):
Jess is a debut novelist in historical fiction centering around the WWII era. A graduate of Indiana University, Jess holds a degree in English. When she is not reading or writing, she teaches English (literature and composition) courses online to high school students. Jess currently resides in upstate New York with her husband, Josh, their three children, and their two dogs. Though she is a Georgia native, Jess has lived in a multitude of states. Each place gives her writing new flare and direction as she is exposed to new people, stories, and experiences. (Photo by Kristen at Sophia Sabella Photography, Schenectady, NY)
Book Description (From Amazon Book Description):
Violet is a pillar of hospitality and compassion within her community. As a farmer’s wife and mother of a large brood, she is resolute, thrifty, and charming. The life that is woven between the land and her family is one of harmony and beauty. When she begins to struggle with depression, her life seems to unravel. At first, the change is subtle, but it quickly intensifies as the flicker of a candle flame brings a way to feel again; her beloved creek becomes ominous as it beckons to her. Having no understanding of what is happening within her, Violet turns to both the religious and medical communities for guidance. Both fail her. With her identity stripped away and her family reeling from the aftermath, Violet must determine if she can make peace with the changes within herself before she is consumed by them. The Process of Fraying is a historical family drama that explores the social, religious, and medical stigmas surrounding mental health in the 1940s.
“This is the very reason that some lives end seemingly early and by their own hands because Mother Nature doesn’t understand that a personage can out-age a body. It is the reason that someone unwell can look so very vibrant on the outside, giving no indication that death lurks around the corner. Souls saturated in sickness, negativity, and ill-thoughts cannot weather the years well.” – The Process of Fraying
Because the book description provides enough insight into Jess Neal Woods’ debut novel, THE PROCESS OF FRAYING, I am not going to speak any further to the story plot. I must acknowledge that I have never addressed the number of FIVE STAR reviews a novel has received in prior reviews I have written, whether indie or traditionally published novels, but I have also never read a self-published debut novel that was written as cleanly as THE PROCESS OF FRAYING was written. To say that I was incredulously awed by the nearly perfect editing alone speaks volumes of Woods’ raw artistic talent. And just as impressive were Woods’ reviews which is why I must address them.
Out of 24 reviews on Amazon, THE PROCESS OF FRAYING amassed 23 FIVE STAR reviews and 1 FOUR STAR review. I have two reasons for including the reviews in my book review. The first is that I have yet to encounter a first-time author with no extensive writing experience that received nearly 100% of FIVE STAR reviews right out of the publishing gate. This alone speaks to the creative writing ability of Jess Neal Woods, an exceptional 20th-century historical fiction author. The other reason is I contacted Jess to ask her if THE PROCESS OF FRAYING could be purchased anywhere else other than Amazon. Aside from the books that Woods sells on her book tour, Amazon is the only place this 5 STAR debut novel can be purchased, and this bothered me but only because THE PROCESS OF FRAYING is a novel that was written for the New York Times bestseller list.
Woods’ plot was fluid, her characters were fully developed and introduced naturally into the storyline. The only error I noted, and I hesitate to bring it up because it was apparently missed by all other reviewers; however, I would be remiss to myself and Jess by not pointing out that in a large family, the writer must be diligent in keeping track of the children’s birthplace and age, in this case, there are seven. And as a disclaimer, I will admit I am an English major, and when I review a book, I look at all things. For a seasoned author, this would disturb me and the review may fall from a 5 STAR to a 4 STAR review; however, I am not going to take a star away from Woods because had I not kept a flow chart going, I would also very likely missed the mistakes when it came to birthplace and age. Thus my 5 STAR review stands.
THE PROCESS OF FRAYING took me back to a time when I was a child struggling to understand the things I was exposed to and the fear that paralyzed me at times. The mind of a child cannot comprehend the ‘process of fraying’, literally. My emotions were all over the place as I read Woods’ emotionally powerful and poignant story, and while fictitious, could just as well have been non-fiction to those of us who lived a similar life story growing up. When our child’s mind becomes the mind of an adult it is then when we find ourselves looking into the black abyss that we come to understand that which we had once not understood but lived in fear of.
Woods told a beautiful and heart-wrenching story that dared to speak to that which is better today than it was in the late 1930s through the 1980s but we are not there yet when it comes to mental health. There is still more work to be done, and we need more acceptance and understanding from all, whether it’s the church, our neighbors, our friends and yes, our families too. Depression, whether it is major depressive disorder or depression on the Bipolar II spectrum is no better or worse than being a diabetic. Both are treatable as long as the patient is compliant.
Add THE PROCESS OF FRAYING to your to-read list. I strongly recommend this book to everyone with a family or starting a family. Some things just are and will remain as is. Well done, Jess!