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Reviewed by Lorraine Cobcroft for Readers' Favorite
Nicole Beverly’s abusive ex-husband offered fellow prisoners payment to murder her. Finding Nicole is a graphic memoir recording the author’s experiences as a victim, and survivor, of shocking domestic violence and her battle for justice and safety. It includes, at the end, a brief guidebook for victims of domestic violence and their loved ones. I began reading Finding Nicole intending only to read a few chapters before going to sleep, but the open, honest, and vulnerable manner in which Nicole Beverly told her horrific story pulled me in. I ended up reading the entire book in a single sitting, and I found myself walking in her shoes. I felt her fear and frustrations. I cheered her wins and her courage, and I grieved over her deep disappointments. I raged at the authorities who let her, and society, down again and again and again. And, eventually, I praised and profusely thanked those who helped to ensure her abuser was incarcerated for long enough to allow her and her sons to enjoy the freedom and safety so many of us take for granted.
If I could award this book six stars, or more, I would do so. It’s not a story to read for pleasure. It’s an educational read: a story that begged to be told and one that has the potential to save many of those who find themselves in abusive relationships. It also has the potential, if only the right people will read it and pay careful attention, to drive urgently needed reforms in the legal system; to educate police, lawyers, judges, and bureaucrats to understand domestic violence and to listen to and believe the victims and find effective and just ways to protect them from perpetrators.
Graphic language and reports of physical violence may disturb some readers, but while telling her story honestly, Nicole Beverly has shown admirable discretion and respect for readers' sensitivities, quoting police reports to tell what needed to be told objectively and factually. While revealing her abuser’s personality and character flaws, she has avoided expressing hatred or showing bitterness, focusing instead on her journey of self-healing. Even when reporting the shocking failures of law enforcement professionals, she has spoken of them respectfully and avoided condemnation. I commend Nicole both for the manner in which she has told her story, and for the courage and determination she has shown in her journey of healing and her mission to help others. Finding Nicole is a story that screams to be read, and the warnings it shouts heeded.