Courage in Patience, Chapter One

Young Adult

By Beth Fehlbaum

Publisher : Kunati, Inc.

ABOUT Beth Fehlbaum

Beth Fehlbaum
I'm the author of Courage in Patience and its sequel, Hope in Patience. Courage in Patience is currently (as of 8/15/09) on submission to several publishers. It originally released 9/08 but my agented had my rights reverted and we are seeking a new home for my well-reviewed, much-loved-by- More...



Ashley Nicole Asher's life changes forever on the night her mother, Cheryl, meets Charlie Baker.
Within a year of her mother's marriage to Charlie, typical nine-year-old Ashley's life becomes a nightmare of sexual abuse and emotional neglect. Bundling her body in blankets and sleeping in her closet to try to avoid Charlie's nighttime assaults, she is driven by rage at age 15 to to tell her mother, in spite of the threats Charlie has used to keep Ashley silent.
Believing that telling will make Charlie go away, instead it reveals to Ashley where she lies on her mother's list of priorities.
"We're just going to move on now," Cheryl tells Ashley. "Go to your room."
Ashley's psyche splinters into shards of glass, and she desperately tries to figure a way out, while at the same time battling numbness and an inability to remember what happened when she blacked out after Charlie tackled her.
She knew that when she awoke her clothes were disheveled and the lower-half of her body was covered in bright red blood-- but she has only a blank spot in the "video" of her memory.
When Ashley's friend, Lisa, sees a note from Cheryl telling Ashley that Charlie would never "do those things to her," and insisting that she apologize for accusing him of molesting her, Lisa forces dazed Ashley to make an outcry to her teacher, Mrs. Chapman.
By the end of the day, Ashley's father, David, who has not seen Ashley since she was three months old, is standing in the offices of Child and Family Services. He brings her home to the small East Texas town of Patience, where he lives with his wife, Beverly, their son, Ben, and works with his brother, Frank.
Through the summer school English class/ Quest for Truth taught by Beverly, an "outside-the-box" high school English teacher whose passion for teaching comes second only to her insistence upon authenticity, Ashley comes to know Roxanne Blake, a girl scarred outwardly by a horrific auto crash and inwardly by the belief that she is "Dr. Frankenstein's little experiment";
Wilbur "Dub" White, a fast-talking smart mouth whose stepfather is a white supremacist who nearly kills a man while Dub watches from the shadows, forcing Dub to realize that he cannot live with the person that he is, any longer;
Zaquoiah "Z.Z." Freeman, one of the few African-Americans in Patience, whose targeted-for-extinction family inherited the estate of one of Patience's founding families and has been given the charge to "turn this godforsaken town on its head";
Hector "Junior" Alvarez, a father at sixteen whose own father was killed in prison, who works two jobs and is fueled by the determination to "do it right" for his son, "3", and his girlfriend, Moreyma;
T.W. Griffin, whose football-coach father expects him to be Number One at everything, and whose mother naively believes that he is too young to think about sex; and
Kevin Cooper, a not-so-bright football player with a heart of gold, whose mother, Trini, a reporter for the local paper, is instrumental in exposing the ugliness that is censorship.
Every person in the class is confronted with a challenge that they must face head-on. The choices they make will not be easy—but they will be life-altering. With the exception of her mother and step-father, Ashley is surrounded by people who overcome their fear to embrace authenticity and truth-- the only way to freedom.
But will Ashley have the inner-fortitude to survive the journey to recovery and the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Will Ashley find her voice, speak up for herself, and break the bondage of her abusive past?
Realizing "she's gonna need a lot more than we have," David and Bev enlist the help of Scott "Dr. Matt" Matthews, an experienced, slightly unconventional therapist who insists that Ashley can and must come out of hiding in the closet in her mind.
The Chris Crutcher novel, Ironman, is taught by Beverly Asher in the summer school class. When T.W.'s overbearing parents read the book, they decide that the book should be censored, and they involve the pastor of Patience's largest, most conservative church to lead the fight through the Purify Patience organization.
Its mission is to cleanse Patience of Profanity, Promiscuity, and Parent-Bashing Pedagogy—all complaints the group has about the novel, Ironman.
Its hidden agenda, however, is to return Patience to a time when "Patience was 100% white", "women knew their place","everyone had plenty of money", and "Christian values were taught in school."
The censoring, pseudo-Christian, white-supremacist, misogynist organization is exposed for what it is in a courageous move by one of its own (well..his mother threatens to twist his ear off if he doesn't speak up), isolating the pastor and causing most of his "flock" to deny they ever knew him.
National and world press attention shine speculation on the dirty little secrets hidden in Patience, and its inhabitants are forced to examine their own values and beliefs.
Alone in the dark, Ashley must face her worst fears in a pivotal scene between her, Charlie, and her mother. Will she find the strength to advocate for her own right to exist in a world that is free of fear and abuse? Can she, like her friends, find Courage in Patience?

Reviews from Publications


Nine-year-old Ashley Asher was pleased when her mother started a relationship with Charlie Baker. Charlie, Ashley thought, would be the father she never had. She was 9 then; now 15, she recounts the story of how her dream life soon turned to nightmare, commencing with the first time Charlie touched her inappropriately.

For years she tolerated it—not only the sexual abuse but also the emotional manipulation her stepfather inflicted on her—until one day she confronted both Charlie and her mother.

To Ashley’s horror, her mother sided with Charlie, leaving the teenager to find her own way, prompting her to reestablish a connection with her biological father. Though the subject matter is undeniably dark, Fehlbaum manages to keep the tone surprisingly light and hopeful. This hard-hitting but readable story about an infinitely troubling subject will resonate with all readers but especially with other survivors of abuse or with those who work with those survivors.

— Mary Frances Wilkens


Fehlbaum's debut novel, set in a small Texas town, is overloaded with thorny issues and hindered by a “very special episode” tone, but features a genuine and empathetic lead. After enduring six years of sexual abuse from her step-father, 14-year-old Ashley Asher finally gathers the courage to confide in her mother; predictably, mom sides with step-dad. Soon, Ashley is sent to live with her estranged birth father, David, and his new wife and son. Though he's now a kind man who's put his life-long anger issues behind him, Ashley still struggles to trust her father. His wife, Bev, a high school English teacher, brings Ashley into her extended family of summer school students; a controversial reading assignment, Ironman by Chris Crutcher, provides the novel's other hot-button issues—racism, censorship, homophobia and religious extremism. An over-the-top scandal is followed by Bev's hokey, message-laden testimonial before the local school board. Throughout, Ashley's self-destructive tendencies, conflicted feelings and struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder read authentically; had Fehlbaum focused more on her recovery, rather than a raft of societal woes, this story would have been more powerful. (Sept.)

Terry Trueman, Printz-Honor-award-winning HarperTeen author, loved Courage in Patience

"I see some interesting (sucky word I know) parallels between the struggles of Ashley and Shawn-obviously their situations are different but that common denominator is the struggle of the human spirit to overcome what, for many people are experiences that they can never overcome, and of course the fact that both of us are writing from places of being deeply hurt and wounded by life, yet making those hurts and wounds into material that can make the world a bit better place. It's great to have company in such a struggle."

-- In reference to the similarities between Shawn, protagonist of Terry's Printz-Honor-award-winning novel, Stuck in Neutral, to Ashley, the protagonist of Courage in Patience.

"Courage in Patience is a gutsy, well-crafted story. The best literature, for me, always come from the pain we survive and grow from."

"Courage in Patience is a powerfully written and unforgettable story of survival and growth--the best of the human spirit."

"My admiration for Beth Fehlbaum is enormous--she has taken a painful chapter from her own life and turned it into a work of art that will help many people--congrats Beth!"

Visit Terry Trueman's website to learn more about this amazing author and see his looooong list of awards.

Reviews from Teen Readers

From Ashley Thompson, a teen reader with the site, Books Are My Love:

Friday, May 22, 2009
Courage in Patience

Title: Courage in Patience
Author: Beth Fehlbaum

Grade: A
Rating: R--- extreme sexual violence at parts. Lots of swearing

Summary: Ashley Asher’s life can easily be described in one saying, “Effed up”. Her step dad gets off on treating poor Ashley like a piece of meat. It takes things getting super bad for Ashley to realize she can't fight anymore, that she shouldn’t have to. She must discover who she really is and that not every man is out there to get her. This lesson can only be learned through the pure love of her true father.

My thoughts: This was honestly the best book I have read in forever. The story portrayed honest emotions that at times made me feel that I was reading a non-fiction story. The characters were all unique, everyone could find themselves somewhere within the story. Never before have I found a novel that addresses broken families, sexual abuse, and racism so clearly. Beth dear, you have officially passed Judy Blume on my best authors list. That’s saying a lot!

Recommendation: Before you decide to read this make sure you are emotionally ready. The abuse in this novel is shown very strongly. I would wait until you are at least 14.

Flamingnet Book Reviews, a site with book reviews by teens, awarded Courage in Patience a "Top Choice" Award. This is the review written by the 15 YO reviewer:

Whoosh. That's the sound that Ashley Asher hears when her stepfather sexually abuses her. As a fifteen-year old she is no longer a child, but she never was an ordinary child to begin with. She endures emotional and physical pain while living with her biological mother, who doesn't care for her at all, and her abusive stepfather. The only way to save herself is to confront her mother and reveal the years of abuse she has received from her stepfather. When Ashley finally has the courage to tell her mother of the painful details of her horrific childhood, her mother turns her back on Ashley and continues to believe that nothing is wrong. The only people that care and are concerned for her safety are Ashley's friends and her teacher. When her teacher contacts Ashley's father (who Ashley has never seen) her life is turned upside down. She leaves her selfish mother and abusive stepfather to live with her caring biological father and stepmother in Patience. She learns that there are people out there that care about her and would do anything to protect her. It is where Ashley finally understands the meaning

Courage in Patience was an emotional, heart-warming book that is unforgettable and hard to put down. I haven't read a book like this in a long time. It makes you realize that life comes in many forms and how it begins or ends all depends on you as a person. Even though I have never endured the pain that Ashley did, I could feel inside of me what she felt when her mother turned her back on Ashley and how her heart shattered into little pieces. It was just so detailed, it felt like my heart was shattering into little pieces as well. When she moves to live with her biological dad, it felt as though my heart was healing along with Ashley's. I think this book will really touch the hearts of every reader and give them the sense of let-down and then the sense of somebody pulling you back on your feet and giving you the chance to live a life of hope and courage. I would recommend this book to anyone who has a heart, which includes everyone.

Reviewer Age:15

ReviewerCity, State and Country: Gearhart, Or U.S.A.

From Angels That Care, a site devoted to helping victims/survivors of sexual abuse:

Courage in Patience.Not wanting to think about sexual abuse -- let alone another child suffering through rape -- I stalled by focusing on the title. How clever it had been for the author to set most of the action in a town called Patience. At least read the rest of this summary, I thought. It quickly became clear that although the book is a novel, Beth Fehlbaum did not write it from the perspective of a person standing outside looking in. She, too, was sexually assaulted as a child. Not only has she faced what happened, she has worked through her pain so she can help others see that they are not alone. Instead of letting stress burn her up inside, she braved smoke and flames in order to throw open a window. That is her holding out a flag that says in large, bold letters, You are not a victim, you are you. No one is more valuable. Fear and anger must not be allowed to consume you. There is a rainbow at the end of the long, storm-prone road to recovery, and that road leads to a smoother one.

Knowing all this did not keep me from stalling again. Child abuse -- particularly sexual abuse -- is not academic to me. The very idea makes scars that time has not healed throb. I became a writer in the hope that shedding light will eventually dry the sludge poisoning my psyche enough that some will blow away. What doesn't can be channeled to some far-off sea, where it will immediately sink to the bottom, never to surface again. Pouring hurt onto paper has helped Ink fades, after all. You can burn paper if you have to. But no matter what you do, a certain amount of residue is going to cling. What you need to do is season it with love and understanding, then make a healing poultice of the mixture and spread it around. I am so glad I quite stalling. Because Courage in Patience does just that.

Beth Fehlbaum has written a story that I guarantee will stay with you. Her characters are fully developed, not Joan of Arcs and Darth Vaders. She was so smart not to make a goodie-goodie of the girl who is the target of the abuse. Not only do you empathize, you end up aching for her to find a way out of the dark! The man who abuses her acts despicably, but he is human. Only a stone would not hurt when reading about the rapes, but what stabbed me the deepest was the mother's betrayal. It brought memories to the surface that I do my best to keep in the graves I worked hard and long to dig and fill. The only time I unearth them is when I am writing. When I write about them, it is in the hope of killing them. (Know I can't, but it would be dishonest to pretend I don't try.) Like Beth Fehlbaum, I harbor the hope that my ordeal will ring enough bells to ease others' pain and and make at least a few abusers seek help.

One reservation that I had in the beginning was that the novel was really two, and should be split. I was wrong. The book is not "about sexual abuse." It is not "about racial discrimination." It is about accepting who we are. It is about accepting each other. It is about faith. It is about gut-level courage and dogged patience and the value -- no, the absolute necessity -- of a free, well-rounded, genuinely enlightened education. It is about the worst in us and the best in us. I love to read books that somehow manage to entertain while teaching important lessons. That teach without teaching down! Courage in Patience is all this and more. Were there medals for fortitude and compassion, she would surely qualify.

I am convinced that one of the mega-publishers will pick up the novel. I am hoping that the editions they print will be in standard, single-spaced format. Double-spacing makes the book look longer than it is. This is a very minor drawback. I only mention it because I would like to see Courage in Patience reach millions. If you haven't read it, you are missing out.

Author/Editor Phyllis Jean D. Green


There was something inside my mom, like there is, at this point anyway, in me, that says we don't deserve respect of our boundaries. Not that we have any in the first place. It's a sense of worthlessness and emptiness, like being a cup with a crack in it. No matter how many times the cup is filled, with, for example, the love that David and Bev show me, it leaks out, because I don't love myself yet. I'm not willing to fight for me, and it comes out in torrents of rage.

Courage in Patience - Beth Fehlbaum

I was drawn to this book like a moth to the flame. At the library, from a distance, I saw the front cover featured on the shelf directly in front of my line of vision. I walked towards it as if I had been searching for the book all along. I had never seen it before in my life but something about it attracted me. Maybe it was the bright contrasted complimentaries of red and green. Maybe it was the way the character's back is focused instead of her face. Whatever it was, I walked straight to it and picked it up to examine the back cover.

I have a process when picking up books, and yes, I do judge a book by its cover (as a graphic designer, how can I not?). I'll skim the back cover, and if my interest is still peaked, I'll open up the front pages and skim the table of contents, if applicable. Courage in Patience is about a teenager who has suffered from sexual abuse since the age of 8. At first, I thought it was a memoir, but when I delved into the first chapter, I realized it was a fiction geared towards young adults and classroom study. This book is amazing and the first chapter hooked me in. … Maybe I was meant to read this book. Maybe there was a reason it caught my eye and I was drawn to it so. Courage in Patience is a book about survival, and I am a survivor. I am not a quitter. I won't give up on myself. I refuse to. I may have my moments, but I will always pick myself up again. It is a book not just about abuse, but also tolerance to anyone who dares to be different, or to anyone who has no choice but be different; tackling racism, fundamentalism, abuse and other issues. It endeavors to resolve the tough subject of self-acceptance with hope. Something we can all resonate with.

Letters from Readers:

Thank you for writing the title: Courage in Patience. It is incredible. Really! My hat is way off to you for putting it together. It seems very realistic. Especially the descriptions of East Texas...LOL I grew up in a town called Whitehouse, Texas. We moved there when I was 12. Three thousand and not growing, Whitehouse was it's own little island behind the curtain of pine trees.

Recently a wise prayer-group leader in his eighties mentioned that four areas of emotion could be the roots of alot of emotional ills. Fear, guilt/shame, hate, low self-esteem....When I read your book I feel these (all four) and they bring tears and real sadness.

In sum, I just really appreciate the writing as I see the possibility of my own story one day emerging. I have been writing all year without a I have completed and published devotionals, newspaper and magazine articles, but nothing in fiction yet. That is my mountain. Still gaining, but your book touches me so deeply. And motivates me to move forward with my real goal: a fictional book containing the elements of my suffering in a bad marriage.

It is ten years later and we are all still healing. I was not abused sexually as a child, but lacked self-esteem and married a great looking, charming guy. Only he controlled my every move and attempted to control my thoughts. So mean; so cruel. We still have several court battles to go, as he does not commit to support his own two children. I left and this guy and it was the best decision of my life. My two children struggle to love their own father. They secretly just desire unconditional love....something that stirs so deeply in all of us. Your main character was so real and so clear to relate to...thank you. It really touched me.





Just a quick note to let you know that your book is fantastic! I'm confident you'll find a new home for your book soon. Gina has always spoken well of you, and I'm sure she'll work hard on your behalf.

Linda Matias

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--- On Tue, 7/22/08, NAME WITHHELD> wrote:

Subject: about your book
Date: Tuesday, July 22, 2008, 12:55 PM

Your article was in the Monday morning Tyler paper here in Texas. I read it and reread it and then went online and read the first part and cried that you had to go through so much.

I am a woman from Ohio who moved here to Texas 10 yrs ago and I was raped and abused when I was 13 yrs old and I am now almost 62 and have held this all in all these years.

The only ones that knew were my grandmother who was taking care of me and unfortunatley I got pregnant and I gave the baby up for adoption since I couldnt raise a child at that age ..I knew ther were good people who could give my son a good home that I couldnt and love and everythng he would ever need and back then it was spoken of. Just told people I had a disease and had to stay home. I have never had counseling of any kind and until I moved here and became a CHristian and became married again and I became more involoved int he Lord and my minister's wife and I became such good friends and I knew then that the Lord brought her into my life so I could tell her. ALll these years I have kept this bottled up inside and that was the most terrible thing I could have done but I didnt know what to do then.

We never spoke of this at home whatsoever and I had a loving grandmother. I went on to have 2 more sons but this one son is on my mind every day of my life and I feel so guilty.

The reason I am emailing you is to thank you for coming out with your book and hoping to be able to buy it when it comes out on Sept first..A friend of mine who is also 13 here is Texas was just raped and beated severely last week and I want a book for her too. Because to this day I still feel its my fault and I want to help her.

Bless you and all you do..youhave no idea how many people you will help by writing this book and bringing it out in the open. Its awful keeping this inside as many years as I did..the most pain I have even felt.

Once again thank you so very much and May God Bless You




Dear Beth,

Thank you for writing Courage in Patience. I read this book because I thought it might help a friend, but it helped me to understand some of my own behaviors. I have many signs of having suffered some sexual abuse, but I have no memories. From time to time I seem to zone out and act less assertive than anyone who knows me now expects. Reading about Ash's recovery and her talks with Bev helped me to understand what apparently happens to me. It is a huge relief, it helps me to forgive myself, it affirms my courage, and it gives me hope that I will continue to heal.




Hello Beth,

I have read your book, Courage in Patience, and I really enjoyed it. I do plan to post a review very soon on my personal book blog - Bobbi's Book Nook.

I have recommended your book to the Mercer County Public Library, but until they actually have a copy in the library, I can't do a review on their website - MCPLib.

I will send you an email with the link as soon as my review is posted. And thanks for visiting the Mercer Library's book review blog!


Bobbi Rightmyer

July 15, 2009


I just started to write a snail-mail note to thank you for the book. Then I remembered 30 something's only use digital.

How wonderful of you to send me a copy of Courage in Patience. You can be proud of that work! It will be a lifeline for girls (and boys) experiencing that trauma. The writing hit so close to my own life. My heart was pounding as I read. Bless you and keep writing -please. So many have walked that path and have no voice to describe the pain -Ashley sure does.

I thank God for you and for your talent!

Dr. Mary Ann Manos

Assistant Superintendent

Eureka Schools - District 140

109 W Cruger Ave

Eureka, IL 61530

(309) 467-3737
From Ira Lightman, an artist and poet who lives in the UK:

Enjoying the chance to read your novel. It's great. It seems also to be about hope in patience, little struck matches of hope. That moves me.


July 17, 2009 letter from a reader regarding Courage in Patience

I finally finished the book. It was so good! Thank you for writing it. I was raped (If you call forcing a blow job on someone rape) as a teenager, but did face it and confronted the kid who did it to me. There are so many out there who do not do that or feel like they can't. When I realized, a few years later, that it wasn't my fault and what had happened to me, I got pissed and contacted the guy. He apologized to me and I ended up forgiving him, but had nothing to do with him after that.
It was freeing though to be able to tell him what he did to me and how it hurt me and affected my life for a few years after that. I will have to tell you in person someday. I would also really like to know your story.
I also loved how you put "truth" out there. I am a Christian, but do not want to be so close minded that I don't see people. That is one thing that I have always feared. Being a Christian means loving people where they are at and not looking down on anyone, but putting others above yourself. Anyway, it was really great to read it! I cried, laughed and was sitting on pins and needles as to what will happen next at certain points. I am looking forward to your next book.


Organizations that help promote Courage in Patience:

Survivors In Action, Inc.

4354 Town Center Blvd., Suite 114-143

El Dorado Hills, CA95762

(916) 941-7292

(916) 941-7216 fax

July 8, 2009

RE: Review & Support for Courage In Patience

It is an honor for Survivors In Action, a national non-profit crime victims organization, to recommend Courage In Patience as one of the best all-time books regarding the subject of child abuse and overcoming victimization.

Author Beth Fehlbaum has an amazing ability to make her words come to life in a matter of seconds. Everyone who reads Courage is trapped within its pages until the story ends.

Courage in Patience is a timeless book for all ages. Survivors In Action is proud to be a part of promoting the book on our web sites, blogs, newsletters and other media formats, to help inspire everyone to learn as the protagonist, young Ashley, does, how to overcome adversity, while inspiring others to speak out about the topic of sexual abuse, which is often a difficult one to speak or write about.


Alexis A. Moore, President

Survivors In Action

“No Victim Left Behind”


Lavender Power ( Courage in Patience was featured in its online zine, Lavender Magazine(, and I'm in its Hall of Successors

Patti Rase Hopson, President