“A deftly crafted and inherently engaging story of hope and transformation, “A Parting Glass” showcases author Tess Banion’s genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling. One of those rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf, “A Parting Glass” is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Contemporary General Fiction collections.” ~James A Cox, The Midwest Book Review
What a refreshingly different read! The subject matter is very heavy as the author tackles domestic abuse head on, however it is written in such a gentle, childlike way that it could have been written by Enid Blyton. It’s the story of a young girl, Elizabeth, the fourth of five chil dren whose father is a drunken bully. It is not a sad story though. Elizabeth’s spirit and energy are addictive and I could not wait to find out the ending. Poignant and dream like, what a way to tackle such a tough topic! ~Michelle S., NetGalley Reviewer
“I am blown away by this touching, strong, beautifully-written story. I want to wrap my arms around this family (not Junior) who I feel I have known but yet not really known. I honestly did not want to put the book down once I got started reading. As I read, I experienced a sense of concern and sadness that was quickly replaced with anticipation, excitement hope and finally joy. It’s a book I will long remember! Well done!” ~Debbie Wilson
A young girl is insulated by her vivid imagination against the bitter realities that she faces in Tess Banion’s Parting Glass. For the O’Sullivans, life is a cycle of hardships, because the world has chosento make it that way. Eleven-year-old Elizabeth is getting a huge slice of the cruel, sick joke that life has thrown at them. She is a high-spirited and imaginative girl who attends a Catholic school where the nuns know who pays for tuition and those who get it for free, and they measure children’s behavior by this fact. Sister Mary Paul loathes Elizabeth. She has the propensity to whack the knuckles of any child, but most of the time, it is Elizabeth. Home is no better as she and her siblings are tormented by an abusive father. A music box creates a turning point that will change her life and, with the help of her siblings, find a gateway to freedom from the real and imagined monsters that surround them.
If you think A Parting Glass is ideally suited for film adaptation, it will likely have a dramatic aura like The Diary of Anne Frank. While it does tackle issues of domestic abuse, it can conceivably appeal to teen readers. Similarly, adults are likely to appreciate the pressing themes that Banion has chosen to write about. In this world, children find refuge inside their heads.This allows Elizabeth to remain resilient, yet Banion cleverly uses a music box as a literary device to contrast the security in imagination and the danger lurking in reality. In the end, it is real people who become greatly instrumental in aiding Elizabeth to achieve a discernible transformation, but it does not negate the fact that Joan of Arc helped her in those troubling times. Consider yourself fortunate if you get to read Elizabeth’s dramatic triumph. ~Vincent Dublado, Readers’ Favorite
A Parting Glass: A Novel by Tess Banion is a heartwarming story that follows eleven-year-old Elizabeth O’Sullivan, a girl struggling to find happiness in a world to which she does not feel fully connected. She is a carefree little girl with a lot of imagination. She is not comfortable with Sister Mary Paul when in school and at home she confronts another monster, a brutal father. How does she cope with realities that hit her hard and can she survive her eleventh year to be able to leave the Catholic School? The way she does it will surprise readers. This is a brilliantly written story with a plot that follows the life of a girl who is as imaginative as she is resourceful. Set in a small town in Kansas, the story explores the fears and hopes of a growing little girl who is caught between reality and fantasy. The author does an impeccable job in developingthe theme of escapism, as Elizabeth struggles with the real and imaginary monsters in her life. The writing is gorgeous, highly descriptive, and spiced with humor. The family dynamics are ingeniously written and I enjoyed the way the young protagonist connects with her brothers and sister. The role of her mom in her life is not just well-written but inspiring.
A Parting Glass: A Novel will appeal to fans of young adult fiction, adventure, and stories that inspire. It is hugely entertaining, a gripping story that will have readers going through the pages nonstop. For me, it was a delightful story with a well-developed, multilayered protagonist; a world I have navigated as a child and that still echoes strongly in my heart. ~By Divine Zape, Readers’ Favorite
A Parting Glass: A Novel by Tess Banion is a bittersweet recounting of a young girl’s emotional, physical, and mental abuse by her father within their dysfunctional family. Elizabeth is just an imaginative, bright, eleven-year-old girl growing up in a railway town in rural Kansas with her four other siblings at the end of WWII. Life at home revolves totally around the moods of her diabetic father, Junior. At times, Junior can seem like a sweet, loving, husband and father but once that red mist descends the entire family knows exactly what to do and how to handle the situation, as best children can. For Elizabeth, who faces torment at home as well as at her strict Catholic school, where one of the nuns clearly has it in for her, she has adopted a world of fantasy where she can run away and hide to escape the evil monsters that seem out to get her. As she and her siblings grow older, it seems her brothers are reaching the point where they may start to fight back and especially protect their poor mother against her extreme abuse by Junior. Is this family heading for a final reckoning that will see them escape from the never-ending torment of abuse? Can Elizabeth rely on her “saints” -the sweet nun, Sister Mary Rose, or perhaps the kind policeman to be the family’s savior – or will they all have to rely on each other to find a way out of this mayhem?
A Parting Glass is a theme that many readers will sadly identify with and for that reason alone is a powerful and compelling read. Author Tess Banion has created a cast of characters that ring true and in Elizabeth she has a wonderful young girl who feels apart from the world and the torment being foisted upon her. She has found a way to supersede the worst of the abuse by looking inside herself and creating a world that she is comfortable living in. The author did an amazing job of building heightened tension in the narrative that beautifully matched the explosive changes in Junior’s psyche, where he could turn on a sixpence from being loving and caring into the monster that Elizabeth so feared. I particularly enjoyed the close relationships the siblings had with each other. With adversity comes a drawing together, a feeling of all-for-one and one-for-all, which was the recurring thread of this story. Banion captured perfectly the helplessness of the battered woman and her children – especially in this time period when the male was king and what he said was law. Add to that the not-so-subtle misogyny of the Catholic church and you have a recipe for dysfunction. A weak, frustrated and emotionally damaged male family head is all that is required for an explosive and violent tale. This was both a heart-rending and heart-affirming novel and the author has done extremely well in presenting an easy-to-read and extremely relatable story. This is one book I can highly recommend. ~Grant Leishman, Readers’ Favorite
“Surrounded by monsters, in her home and at her school, imaginary and real, unwitting heroine Elizabeth O’Sullivan finds a unique way to deal with a not-so-happy childhood and a path to happiness. The reader is allowed a glimpse into Elizabeth’s world of make believe where Gary Cooper becomes her friend, a special nun floats and protects, and a paper saint dances and winks and makes her feel special. A compelling read from beginning to end.” ~Maureen Carroll
“This is a page turner. I hated to put it down! So descriptive, insightful and charged! The language is colorful and it brings the picture directly to my mind’s eye. This is my favorite phrase from the book: “Hurt sometimes came when she least expected it, based on some unknown feeling, and popped up like a jack-in-the-box. Hurt and fear, tied together.” ~Connie Shidler
“I read A Parting Glass all day yesterday. I did not pass GO, I did not collect $200. I only ate once, I did not pee because I was slightly dehydrated from non-stop reading. I could not put it down because I wanted to know more about the lives of this family, these kiddos. I wanted to know how their story ended. “It was light and happy while at the same time heavy and dark. The characters were distinct, easily recognizable and consistent. I felt I knew them immediately. Their behavior and thoughts were insightful, delightful and sometimes heartbreaking. I laughed at out loud (here…alone in my house) several times or thought “that’s a good one”—I love the main character, Elizabeth, for being her perky, spacey and special little self.” ~Joyce Cussimanio
“Each character was fully realized, which is no small accomplishment when you are writing about a family with many children. I do believe the author hit this one out of the park as we used to say at our old softball games.” ~Kathy Sutton
“The relatable and comforting (at times painful and deeply penetrating) reliability to the Midwest catholic family life was truly charming and lovely to read. Like the feeling of being in a space you remember but have never been. I loved the description of thoughts turned into statements and the charming way things were described; the use of adjectives and descriptors, and subtle and witty humor. An enthralling journey of how a family dealt with pain and happiness together.” ~Liz Calloni