7 Oct 2022


 Today its my pleasure to be sharing my thoughts on EXIT WOUNDS by ANNIE O'NEILL STEIN.

Publisher ... The Permanent Press

Publication Date ... September 6th 2022

ISBN ... 978-1579626554

Born to shanty Irish on one side and Park Avenue privilege on the other, Laura navigates a turbulent childhood filled with the alcohol-fuelled abuse of her volatile father and her mother’s excessive drinking. As the middle child of three girls, she assigns herself the role of her mother's protector, who dies when Laura is thirteen, leaving her heartbroken and adrift.

Insecure, anxious, and fearful, she tries drugs, random sex, and a sequence of lovers. Along the way, she becomes a successful painter and has a bad first marriage. Nothing, however, seems to assuage her emptiness and her sense of loss. Eventually, she marries a caring man and has a loving daughter. It is only at the end of her life, and by way of an unusual and unexpected turn of events that she is finally able to make peace with herself, to let go of the feeling that she never really grieved, and said goodbye to her beloved mother, and to appreciate that though we work at love and acceptance, sometimes the most wonderful experiences in our lives come in unanticipated and unsought ways. ... Back Cover Blurb {Contains what may be considered spoiler, simply scroll over the hidden text to read}

"Why did the mam cut the toilet seat in half?" Laura's father asked when he'd stopped tickling her. ... First Sentence, Chapter 1: The Half-Assed Brother

The crib, the baby blankets, even the wallpaper in her nursery had to be "the Best." The jealousy quietly crept in. Laura tried to feel ashamed of it, but all she could feel was a low-grade resentment take root. Her heart over-flowed with love for her baby girl, too, so a part of her loved seeing Grace shining like the morning sun on top of her pedastal. But the green worm, once there, never fully went away. ... Memorable Moment, Page 104


The product of what we might call a dysfunctional family; a volatile, and abusive father with a propensity for "drink" and a mother who seeks solace in the bottom of a bottle, Laura is something of a daddy's girl, his shadow, until one day she and her two siblings witness something that will change Laura's view of him forever.

It wasn't the plot that made this book for me, indeed, certain aspects put me in mind of several other novels. It wasn't even so much the characters, though love them or hate them, they made for great reading. For me it was the writing that made it such a fantastically memorable read.

The heart and passion with which the author writes, the what feels like the pouring of her very soul onto the page, the rich imagery and brutal honesty, the mix of dark 'Irish' humour and stark, raw emotion, the way she unfailingly depicts how early trauma vies with memories of happiness and joy.

If I was seeking to criticise anything it would have been that a lot was covered {some 40 plus years} in a fairly short novella of just over 200 pages but I can't say I felt at all robbed in the way I so often do with short reads; no, Exit Wounds was worthy of each and every one of the five star I awarded it.

About Annie O'Neill Stein ... Native New Yorker Annie O'Neill Stein moved to Los Angeles early 80s as an actress, during the great migration of NY actors to LA. After many small parts in TV series, from Miami Vice to Charlie’s Angels, I decided to follow my true passion, writing.

She found mentors at UCLA, Eve LaSalle Caram, and Kerry Madden at UCLA, and studied with them for several years. Being accepted to Sewanee Writer’s Conference to study with Alice McDermott planted the seed for Exit Wounds, her first novel.

Annie O'Neill Stein has written for several magazines, More, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Distinction, Folks, and was a regular contributor to Huffington Post for several years.

Some of the things she's proudest of are leading creative writing workshops with foster teens for five years, and editing and publishing Beauty From Ashes, short stories, and poetry written by foster youth.

She lives in LA with her husband and has two grown daughters, although she would love to pretend that she lives in the French countryside.

She is a huge advocate of kindness. Kindness, gratitude, and the belief that we’re all on this planet to help each other.

Follow Annie O'Neill Stein ... ~ Website ~


Kelly said...

Good review, Felicity! I wasn't sure it sounded that good to me at first, but your high praise of the writing has me convinced to take a closer look.

nightwingsraven said...

This sounds like a very compelling
and powerful story. Which I will
definitely keep in mind. And thank
you for your excellent review.

Nadene @Ttly Addicted 2 Reading said...

Exit Wounds sounds powerful. So glad you enjoyed it.

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

Wonderful review. You have me wanting to read this one.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

I have been asked to review a couple of short story /novella length books just recently and although I have never considered either to be amongst my favourite genres, I have to admit to enjoying them both immensely.

How an author manages to fit a full-length story, with great characters and excellent writing, into so few pages, is beyond me. But then, I do tend to waffle on rather, even in my comments, if you hadn't already noticed :)

I really like the sound of this one and I am definitely adding it to my 'wish list', so thanks for the recommendation and a fantastic review and post!