John J. Blenkush
In John J. Blenkushâ€™s latest novel, Stacyâ€™s Story, the lives of a young married couple are irreparably damaged and changed by one man attempting to cover up a crime. What began as a two week hiking and camping vacation in Taylor Lake, California quickly turned into a nightmare. Love, survival, and retribution are the main themes of this tale of good vs. evil. In this book, Blenkush exploits the full range of the human experience, from abject fear to unrelenting courage.
Blenkush begins Stacy Freemanâ€™s story near its end: She is in the hospital after giving birth to her son. Even though the nurses and her family encourage her to feed her unnamed baby boy, Stacy refuses to acknowledge him. She is waiting for the results of a DNA test that will reveal the father of her son: her late husband or the monster that held her hostage for five days nine months prior to her sonâ€™s birth. From this starting point, the author plunges the reader into the tragedy that changes Stacyâ€™s life forever.
After months of planning their get-away to Feather River Canyon, Stacy and her husband Cory are faced with the destruction that a major fire has caused to over 44,000 acres of the area. Cory refuses to postpone their expedition and finds an alternative trail at Taylor Lake. The day after their arrival, the couple begins the task of climbing the mountain. When Stacy is unable to make the climb, Cory, an experienced climber and hiker, finds a trail that leads them to the Kettle Rock Summit. As they near the top, Stacy injures her ankle. Cory goes ahead to seek help from the ranger stationed at the fire tower. Stacy makes her slow way up to the lookout, and the couple goes inside the tower with Brock Tillotson. Brock has no useful first aid material to offer Stacy; plus, his strange, detached behavior gives Cory a bad feeling, so the couple leaves. Brock tells them to stay on the trail as they descend the mountain. Because of his uneasy feeling about Brock, Cory guides his wife off of the trail. It turns outs out to be a fatal decision.
A gun shot changes the course of Stacyâ€™s life during the five terrifying days that Brock holds Stacy captive. The physical and psychological terror he inflicts upon the young nurse forces her to relinquish her dependent nature and take on the hard, callous perspective of a cold blooded criminal in order to save her life. As the days pass, Stacy develops a toughness that morphs into super human courage and a burning desire for revenge.
This story is powerful and emotionally overwhelming. Blenkush stresses his protagonist in every possible way, down to the heartbreaking battle she wages against her maternal instinct in the days before she learns who her sonâ€™s father is. And yet, she survives it all. The greatest take away from this book for me is that, even though the main character is a woman, Blenkush allows her to adapt and grow throughout her horrible experience using every resource she comes with as an individual. He does not portray her gender as a hindrance. Stacy is simply a human being doing everything within her power to survive.
Stacyâ€™s Story is an incredible story. I highly recommended.
Melissa Brown Levine
Independent Professional Book Reviewers