By A. Adams Jones
Review by Kelly David
Blind Innocence Part 1 tells a story of repeated trauma, disability, addiction, and recovery through the love of others and faith in God. It follows the protagonist, Tarrell, from his birth to a mother battling addiction to crack through the foster care system and homelessness to ultimately finding his way through the help of a kind stranger.
Issues of coercion, abuse, sex, and violence are addressed matter-of-factly throughout the novel. They are not huge events but just a normal part of life in Tarrell’s experience. These all pile on as he grows and tries to survive in a world where his options seem to be either accept abuse or fend for himself. Not only do you see the way chronic exposure to trauma impacts the main character, but it is also a major force in the life of every character. Even those who harm him are contextualized in the trauma and pain that drove them to become the people they become. Born into an environment permeated by abuse, addiction, and pain, Tarrell’s ultimate lessons are all the more profound.
While his childhood was filled with issues related to his developmental disability, early adulthood also brings the diagnosis and treatment of depression and anxiety. In spite of sexual trauma, physical abuse, and rejection, Tarrell continues on and finds mother and father figures and a home. He experiences someone taking the time to teach him and offer him true support and love for the first time. Through this, he is able to experience things for the first time, which is common to many survivors of long-term trauma who feel they missed out on many developmental milestones or learning opportunities.
The power of prayer and a relationship with a higher power guide the characters to the places where they feel fulfilled and hopeful, in stark contrast with the people around them. They open doors of a stranger and the mutual shared support of Tarrell and his new mother speak to the dynamic in which both people benefit from a helping relationship in many ways that one may not realize.
Ultimately, this book is a lesson in how opening up to the love of strangers and looking for guidance from a higher power can transform life—no matter how severe or painful the past.