In Reach for Joy, Tessy Reyes (a pseudonym) tells of her 30-year marriage to an independent survivalist who controlled her and her children until she succeeded at getting away from him. During that time, she bore ten children, nine of whom survived. Her memoir opens with the memory of the child who didn’t survive, a heartbreaking story, even more so when she puts it into context later in her story.
The family often lived without heat, electricity, water, or plumbing. She home schooled her children so that both she and her children wouldn’t need to leave the house. For many of those years, Tessy’s husband forbade her from driving and spied on her whenever she left home for errands.
Reyes wrote her story in order to give support to other women who may be in abusive, controlling relationships. Her hope is that her story will give courage to others to escape sooner than she did.
While I sympathized with the author throughout the book, I hadn’t realized until I finished reading it that the author used a pseudonym instead of her real name. Other names in the book are also pseudonyms. And this made me feel a bit like I was tricked into sympathizing with her. I immediately went back to the beginning of the book–a Kindle version–to see if I missed something. I didn’t.
Because I was surprised that she chose a pseudonym, I did some online research and eventually found her website where she indicates she is not afraid to use her name, but she chose a pseudonym to protect others from being easily identified. Is this a good enough explanation for a pseudonym? I don’t know. I believe her story is real—unfortunately so. And I applaud her goal of encouraging other women who may be in similar relationships to find the courage to get out. But I feel her case would be stronger if she used real names or at least pointed out in the beginning that she chose pseudonyms for a good reason, for the protection of the privacy of others.
Print Length: 185 pages
Publisher: Northwest Sourdough
Publication Date: June 1, 2016
Categories: Book Review