Child Abuse: It is Personal

Biggest Myth About Child AbuseThe Mystery novel I Can’t Breathe! provides a strong theme—child abuse. Unfortunately, child abuse happens every day to children all over the world. In our country over 3.5 million cases of child abuse were reported last year, and there were countless other cases that remained the “secret” no one dared to tell in too many homes and institutions—including my home and my school.

The Bowman family is not unusual. Many farm kids end up working much harder than children should have to. The added problem with this family is the deterioration of the mother’s mental health. Her backstory gives ample reasons for her state of mind and her harsh disciplinary methods. Betty is simply over her head and cannot deal with her children along with her weight, her health, and her unhappy marriage. Mental health issues are also major secrets, too embarrassing to face, and much too harmful to the “family reputation” to talk about openly. Sadly.

The people who suspect or know that the Bowman children are in trouble include the neighbors and their teachers. Dewey has to know something is wrong. He chooses not to be involved with his girls, and his neglect keeps them in harm’s way. Maybe he is waiting for life to get better.

In spite of their circumstances, the three girls are strong. They boldly go down the rapids as often as they can. They find ways to protect one another. They get up every day, face their lives, and do all that they can to quietly survive. The girls’ friend Dan is also strong, dedicated to making a success of his life, yet an adult pulls him in a negative direction. He seeks support, but cannot find it. Continue reading

I Can’t Breathe! Novel Western News Interview

Last week while I was in Hayden, Idaho, Justin Steck, news reporter for The Western News, Libby, Montana’s newspaper, interviewed me regarding my novel, I Can’t Breathe! I enjoyed the process, and he put together an interesting article that I want to share with others. He and his editor, Matt Bunk, have agreed to let me put the article on my website. I encourage readers to check out The Western News for timely stories of interest, not only in Montana, but also across the country. In Libby and Lincoln County, this paper is an important way to keep the community connected within the town and county—and with the rest of the world. The Western News is both in print and online.

Former resident writes fictional book about Libby
Posted: Friday, February 20, 2015 8:56 am | Updated: 9:04 am, Fri Feb 20, 2015.
Justin Steck The Western News

H.M. Bowker planned on writing a book about three of her fellow students from Libby High School. A 1961 graduate, Bowker wanted to tell a story about how kids from a small Montana community can chart their own course to success. Continue reading

I Can’t Breathe! A Theme of Abuse

W.R. Grace plant smoke spreading tremolite asbestos dust over Libby, MontanaWelcome to the I Can’t Breathe! website. This mystery novel takes place in Libby, Montana in 1958, specifically with other Northwest communities and rural areas including Kalispell, Missoula, Eureka, areas in between—and Canada. I grew up in Libby, and I have enjoyed writing about familiar territory.

The theme of abuse runs through this novel. Corporate abuse: the Zonolite Mining Company provided asbestos ore to many other companies and made billions of dollars yearly. The company took the shortest route to profits by omitting safe working conditions for the mining employees. Exposure to asbestos resulted in several painful illnesses and death for the miners, their families, the community of Libby, and literally millions of consumers of asbestos products throughout the world. Continue reading