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Saturday
May182019

Book Review: The Scar Dance

The Scar Dance: A NovelWilliam Mansfield. Chicago, IL: Eckhartz Press, October 16, 2018, Trade Paperback, 182 pages. 

Reviewed by Susan Fox.

Anne, an art teacher on the south side of Chicago, is attacked and mauled by three dogs, and in those few short, terrifying moments, everything about her life changes forever. Screaming for help, she is almost killed in the attack. Her husband is notified and races home to find his wife being loaded into an ambulance, nearly unconscious and covered with blood. Over the next months, Anne struggles to heal from her wounds, both physical and emotional. The attack changes not only her life but that of her husband as well.

The Scar Dance is the story of her recovery, lovingly told by her husband. He begins the book on the day of the attack, a day that starts like any other ordinary day. Anne agreed to do a favor for their neighbors, a couple with three dogs: two bull mastiffs and one Labrador. She agreed to let the dogs out and feed them while the owners were gone, but since she was apprehensive about being alone with the dogs, she had arranged to see them ahead of time—with the owners present. It seemed to be a safe and thoughtful way to handle the situation.

The visit does not go as planned, however. When Anne knocks on the neighbor’s door, the wife calls out for Anne to come in. Anne turns the door handle, and three large dogs rush out to attack her. Anne is knocked to the ground and dragged down a concrete stoop by their powerful jaws. Just moments before, she had been enjoying a beautiful spring morning. Now she was fighting for her life.

The author takes us through Anne’s recovery, and how the attack changes her. He writes how Anne must deal with PTSD. He is honest and forthright in describing how much he has changed as well, and the residual anger he deals with every day. He acknowledges that the entire ordeal and aftermath has taken a staggering toll on their marriage, especially with the escalating tension with their neighbors, the frustration with the press, and a slow-moving court system. Several times I couldn’t help but wonder how I would have responded to the same situation. 

He also writes of the unexpected kindness exhibited by people and the support of the local police force. He writes of the inner strength they find and the ever-changing yet deepening love they have for each other.

I would have enjoyed seeing these themes developed more fully, and the timeline made a bit more concrete. Overall, this is an excellent read, and the story engrossed me from beginning to end. 

 

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