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Review:Aiedail says:
Hello hello! Here with your requested review :)

First of all, I have to say that I was a bit surprised to see that you'd chosen to look at Astoria this way--I've got a drastoria myself and am a bit biased, but I'd never really thought of her ever as someone who'd come from a literally abusive family.

Now, I don't know anything about this kind of thing in real life, thankfully! But I do like that you give Astoria a bit of a complex character, where she's caught between doing what she wants and doing what she should because she's loyal. I sort of wanted those lines to blend more, you know? There's something I feel that's a bit--I'm unsure--too constructed for me about the way that she can reason through her feelings. So much of how I view abuse is about impulses--if we want to believe that people who abuse their children aren't necessarily evil through and through, it seems like impulse and the lack of judgement are to blame, or something more deeply-rooted in a power complex or an inferiority complex. I am in no way trying to make excuses for this kind of behavior, because it's obviously inexcusable. I think in that regard you've portrayed Astoria well as a victim of that horror--to think, she's living through a war and surviving but she's being so hurt at home, the place where she should be safe, is doubly tragic. There's a Tolstoy quote about this kind of thing though it's more between a husband and wife, about how we live through war and sickness and yet the true tragedy is what happens between people who are meant to love each other but hurt each other anyway. I think that was something you portrayed well here.

But I want Astoria to be more--guilty. She's innocent here, and though that so often, horribly, sadly happens in real life, what would really interest and injure me as a reader is if at some point she felt that she somehow, rather than deserving it, was welcoming of it somehow, because it was still attention, or something. GRANTED, I don't know much about ToS in terms of abuse, so it's possible that what I've mentioned could get really iffy with suitability for this site, but I'd like to see her as something other than this innocent little girl who is entirely the victim.

I see you gesturing towards this with her final act of leaving her father and burning down the house (which, incidentally, is the title of a really good book of literary craft essays that I will readily recommend to anyone! "burning down the house" by charles baxter btw); but this seemed so contrary to the rest of her characterization and so sudden that I can't truly believe it's the same Astoria. And it's probably true that she's changed over the years, but I didn't see any indication up until that moment, you know? How often in life are epiphanies truly just the work of a moment---I really think that more often we're just blind to ourselves becoming someone new in smaller moments, and when the last piece clicks into place it seems like this grand new person we become, all at once. I don't think it's ever all at once.

I think that might be an easy fix. Just give us hints in the earlier sections that she feels some sort of something else--to me, that she believes it's her fault just because her dad says it is and then that she keeps on believing it just by saying it to herself seems really pitiful--in a good way, I mean--but to me it doesn't quite relay what I think might be the true horror and hardship of what she's experiencing. I guess I would like to see her go one of two ways: very timid, mild, scared, or bold, brash, even sometimes reveling in self-pity. Does this make sense, or am I on a random ramble again? Basically, to me Astoria seems a bit too--too--too much of the perfectly innocent victim. And while I think you do an excellent job portraying how this is a horrible crime and how in the end she breaks free, to me there is something slightly missing, which I hope I've been able to communicate. If not, or if anything is confusing feel free to PM me :P

I haven't touched up much on Draco. I love the part where he goes to encounter Mr Greengrass and he's asking him How could you? and Astoria knows that his being a death eater has nothing to do with it. That's a poignant, realistic moment because you don't need to explain it, and because I as a reader can fill in the gaps. I think those gaps or, as Willa Cather says in "On Writing," "the things not said," are the most powerful there can be. Perhaps what I'm truly saying after all is that I'd rather see it rather than be told it, you know?

Other than that I like the idea that Draco and Astoria had been friends throughout Hogwarts. It's nice to see him care about somebody other than himself, though to be truthful, I'm still not 100% convinced of this Draco. He seems almost too selfless. As a child, I feel, he'd want Astoria to be well because he wanted to spend time with her perhaps even more than he wanted her to be well for her own sake. Those are things I think children have to learn, unless they're demigods or otherwise unflawed. Unflawed is a word I'd like to leave you with, because besides the big last act, burning the house, leaving Mr Greengrass, the children seem too unflawed to me. Again, we write and read very different stories, so this comes down to preference ;)

Okay, one last thing: I don't really think that the lyrics to the song actually need to be in the chapter. I think you could just mention it's based on it and give credit. To be honest, the lyrics distracted me a bit and I didn't feel like they made any parts of the prose seem different or new. This is preference, again.

I hope this has been helpful, and again, feel free to PM me if I haven't quite made sense ;)

-lily

Author's Response: Burning down the house is actually one I read in school! I did find Charles a bit pretentious so at times it was a bit hard to stay into, but I really enjoyed the majority of his ideas. Like the epiphany one ;). Although, in the instance of this kind of life long abuse, I think the moment that victim realizes they just can't do it could be extremely varied.

I really like the idea of blurring the lines! I think it would add another element. I have an adopted sister who was severely abused before my parents adopted her, so the majority of what I know is simply from group therapy sessions we'd have. I guess parts of my Astoria may have stemmed from her.

As you said, this may just come down to preferences :). In the eyes of Astoria, Draco wouldn't be flawed, because he has been the only thing keeping her whole. Although, I think I could expand on her anger when she learned that Draco had planted a sufficient amount of evidence to get her father arrested and taken to Azkaban. Because that want she'd harbor for her father to get better, to be able to actually be a father, would always remain - so knowing that Draco took it away from her could be very painful. Or it could be her chance to finally feel free.. hmm I'll have to think more on that.

No - everything you've said makes perfect sense! It was really great to get your ideas on how an abused victim could/should react. I will have to read the piece over and see if there are places I'd like to add in more of the difficulty between her distinguishing if it was her fault, if it wasn't, where she finally breaks.. those kinds of things :)!

I actually don't see Astoria coming from an abused home either, I see her as a very pampered and nearly suffocated child - but I really loved the idea of Draco being the one to save her as opposed to her being his savior.

Thanks again for taking the time to review!!


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