SOURCE: Four Elk Press

July 11, 2008 12:08 ET

New Book "Seven Blackbirds" Smashes the Stereotypes of Domestic Abuse

PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwire - July 11, 2008) - Helen Winslow Black's novel "Seven Blackbirds" opens with a gut-wrenching scene of a young mother beaten by her husband while she holds her infant in her arms. Kim Baltakis's narrative of her journey from abused wife to independent woman is told with intelligence and dexterity. This is tough material, but Black's control of tone never falters. "Seven Blackbirds" is rich in memorable characters and vivid settings... Well-educated, well-bred -- a cellist as well as a lawyer -- Kim is not your typical victim, just as her husband, Larry, does not fit the stereotype of an abusive husband. Yet that is Black's point exactly. The novel explores the complexities behind Kim's compelling story, and gives the reader fresh insight into the dynamics of domestic abuse. -- Corinne Demas, Professor of English, Mount Holyoke College, Author of "Eleven Stories High: Growing Up in the Stuyvesant Town, 1948-1968."

Full of non-PC takes on abuse recovery, promiscuity, single-parenthood, and the legal system, "Seven Blackbirds" is a page-turner with an uplifting ending as well as a searing commentary on a major social issue. Kim Baltakis keeps the sexual abuse in her past hidden even from herself while finishing a law degree and caring single-handedly for the baby whose arrival destroyed her marriage. Though Kim complains that she's "stranded in Tulsa, the city of her discontent," she also describes that same Tulsa throughout in lavish and loving detail. The book is an eclectic musical journey too. From Schuetz's "Seven Last Words of Christ" to Delbert McClinton singing "She's Like Rolling a Seven Every Time I Roll the Dice," the book is full of music, as Kim's healing process ultimately requires confronting her own abandonment of a promising musical career as a teen, and the subsequent loss of the voice of her soul.

Childhood sexual abuse, a psychopathic first husband, grim circumstances handled with wit and comedy in this first novel, set largely in the depths of Oklahoma, with side trips to Chicago's gold coast. The protagonist, with a diaper bag and baby in tow, "stumbles along the road to wholeness" without a word of psychobabble, but with the help of a series of intimate new friends. A tale of a competent, accomplished woman, climbing out of her incompetent past. "Editors Select," Notre Dame Review, No. 25 (W/S 2008).

"Seven Blackbirds" addresses head-on and with deft balance the damage that flows from the invisible epidemic of domestic abuse. Visit to hear audio clips of radio interviews and author readings and find a link to the author's YouTube entry at

"Seven Blackbirds" by Helen Winslow Black. Four Elk Press, January 2008. Softcover, 6 x 9, 257 pages, $14.00. ISBN: 978-0-9796623-0-0. Four Elk Press, P.O. Box 25741, Portland OR 97298, (503) 984-9922 Contact: m (503) 984-9922 QP Distribution: (888) 281-5170 or

Contact Information