The Life O’Riley by Brian Cohen Reviewed by Fran Lewis

January 14, 2010 at 2:10 am (domestic abuse) (, , , , )

The Life  O’Reilly

Author: Brian Cohen

ISBN: 978-1-4401-5025-8

Publisher: i Universe

Abuse of any kind is wrong. Whether verbal, psychological, sexual, economic, physical or just plain intimidation threats of violent behaviors to gain control or power of another person are wrong and needs to be permanently irradiated. First time author and attorney Brian Cohen’s novel The Life of O’Reilly brings to light not only the issue of spousal abuse but the struggle of one man, Nick O’Reilly to find his destiny and create a legacy of his own to be proud of.

As we meet or main character, Nick O’Reilly he is preparing for an important meeting at the Harvard Club. Working for the law firm of Gardner and Schmidt, among the foremost leaders in what many would say Who’s Who in law firms, Nick enters meeting room unprepared for what is about to happen and the news that would forever change his life.

Image is everything in this law firm and when the head of the firm gets up at this meeting and states that in order to appease the outside community and create the appearance of caring for those less fortunate, he was mandating that each and every lawyer and partner in the firm take on a pro bono case and even formed a token committee and a assigned a person to head it. But, as he stated, not to the exclusion of the clients that really count and the ones that needed their time and energies because they were their bread and butter.

Nick recently inducted as the Chairman of the Trial Lawyers Section of the New York State Bar Association was given the first pro bono case and had no choice but to accept it. A case involving a young mother who was a victim of spousal abuse so horrific that it not only destroyed the physical and mental well being of the mother but the child too.

But, this is not only a story of how Dawn and Nick met and how he became immersed in her case and how he realized that no matter how much his law firm and partners demeaned his efforts and wanted to thwart his goals to provide her with the best legal help and keep her safe, they too used their own form of abuse and harass him to hamper his efforts to succeed. After meeting with Tom Dooley at the NYCLS offices and discussing how to proceed, any doubts about helping Dawn and her son Jordan faded. Learning as much as he could from Tom and doing research about domestic issues and children’s rights he forged ahead and began working on her case making sure that she would gain full custody of her son.

Jimmy Nelson, the husband and father of Jordan played a vital role in what was to forever change Nick’s perspective about his career choice, where he worked and the legal system in general. After coming to an agreement with his legal team and working out a settlement, Jimmy Nelson throws a real curve ball at Nick during the final proceedings that will send shock waves throughout Nick and the reader too. One misstep and one innocent moment will cost him his career in this firm that represents those who commit fraud and cover up their client’s indiscretions and more, and will restore a young man’s faith in himself and restore his dignity.

As a result Nick is forced to leave this law firm based on the allegations made by Jimmy at the final settlement meeting but then fosters a relationship with Dawn that leads to a possible future and happiness. But, not everything in life will always turn out the way you want it to. Sometimes you have to embrace the good and deal with the bad while fighting for your life and survival. But, not only does the system turn on him but also so does Tom Dooley who entrusted him with the case and who is supposed to be on his side and Dawns.

This is a story of a love that came out of nowhere to a man that thought he would never find happiness and did. This is a story of loyalty, friendship and trust when no one else would stand by him one friend does and they start building a future, their own firm and a life for their families together. But, Nick O’Reilly was not destined to have this happiness for long and when the rug is pulled from underneath him and his life is once again torn apart, it is Dawn and her love for him that keeps him strong and makes him fight for as long as possible.

What happens will endear you to both Nick and Dawn and make you cherish what each of us has in our lives and not take anything fore granted. A poignant, well written, novel dealing with many important real life issues that people face today, author Brian Cohen reminds us of how precious our children are, how wrong it is for anyone to be a victim of abuse, and how we must stand our ground, as Nick did in the face of adversity.  But, when Nick is faced with a decision that will forever change his life and that of his future, it is not the doctors but Dawn, their families and his true friend Evan, that instill in him the will the fight and more.

Brian Cohen has brought to light many important issues in this novel. Remembering the many cases in the news of children that did not receive the help from those agencies who are sworn to protect and keep them safe, Nick O’Reilly made sure that Jordan did not have the same fate as Lisa Steinberg or Nix Mary Brown. Everyone needs to control his or her own destiny but unfortunately that is not always the case. This is a novel that will bring tears to the eyes of the reader applaud the courage of one man who achieved his own destiny and created an amazing legacy before it was too late. From the first page until the last I could not put this book down and was hoping for more. I can’t wait to read Brian Cohen’s next book and hope I get the honor or reviewing it.

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