Tangled Minds By Yvonne Mason
Reviewed by Fran Lewis
Teenage prostitution, drugs, murder, small town cover ups and more are only part of the tangled webs that have been so craftily intertwined in this novel by the mistress of mystery, murder and mayhem Yvonne Mason. Throughout this novel we are introduced to characters whose decisions are poorly thought out, whose ideals and values are twisted and convoluted and his morals sink to the lowest depth of an ocean floor.
Brianna Van Pelt feels that she has been dealt a bad hand. According to her it is the world’s fault that she got pregnant and 17 and got stuck with a child. It is her parent’s fault that she lost her freedom to party hardy and go out with her friends because they felt she had to own up to her responsibilities as a parent. Not according to this self-centered and thoughtless teenager.
Wanting to get a job, her own place to live and be on her own, Brianna is angry with her parents for not understanding her points of view when she wants to spend time with her friends and they refuse to babysit her son Josh. Josh becomes the innocent victim of a poor and heartless mother who decides she hates this precious child and will care for him but with a cold heart.
Finding a job for this beautiful young lady was easy, the where and the what would forever ruin her life and hopefully teach teenagers and young adults that there are consequences for your actions and using poor judgment. Sometimes there is no turning back.
Leaving her son in a closed car with a small crack in the window, Brianna meet with the owner of a restaurant in order to get a job waitressing. Unfortunately for her, the child starts to cry and the next thing she knows she is arrested for endangering the life of her child. Instead of appreciating all of the help she receives from her parents and the social worker, she uses a key phrase that seems to become the mantra of each of the characters in the book: It’s not my fault. It is the fault of my parents or someone else. Never taking ownership of her mistakes, Brianna enters a world that would soon envelope her in mind, spirit and body with consequences so catastrophic that they will forever scar her in more ways than one.
Working in the restaurant for a man who is cruel and sleazy, she becomes involved with another, Ken Morgan who entices her into the world of prostitution and all the fancy luxuries he can bestow on her as long as she follows the rules and makes the clients happy.
But, this life was short lived and she and her friend Amber soon learn the other side of this profession and have to run for their lives in order to survive.
Added to this a young child who is sent from pillar to post and constantly in the care of other people, you have the formula for failure and more. Josh, who had the potential to be a good kid, also feels that it is the fault of the world for his fate, as the book opens and we meet him at 17 years of age in jail for murder.
Her employer and pimp, Ken Morgan, fulfilling the sexual desires of judges and those who await her services, bedazzle Brianna with wealth and money and more, we learn that there are many desperate and sick men out there that want to fulfill their wildest fantasies and will pay any amount for them.
The author is familiar with the inside workings of the legal system and she clearly explains and helps the reader to understand just how difficult it is to prosecute and arrest drug dealers, prostitutes and more when dealing with small town law enforcement and corrupt judges.
Learning the hard way she runs to the mountains and is kept safe there by a group of mountain people who protect their own and make sure that Brianna and Josh are taken care of. The Holt family is into making and selling moonshine, wild behaviors, keeping their secrets and justifying when they commit murders.
Within this story we meet Ms. Amy the woman that cares and loves Josh and protects him as a young child and whom he wanted to remain with when his mother had to flee and only took him with her out of necessity and not love.
Hannah Holt represented the only grandmother figure that Josh knew and upon her death his entire character changed and as his mother’s did and they become too cold-hearted and unfeeling people caught up in their own tangled and twisted minds whose knots are so intertwined they might never form a straight and single smooth line.
But, life is not always what it is cracked up to be and you need to find your own way even in a world that seems against you. Making excuses for yourself and going down the wrong path is easy and what some people do when they are afraid of standing tall and learning that success comes with hard work. But, Josh watches how his mother destroyed herself, how she succumbed to a life of hard knocks and desolation, decides to leave and follow his own path of destruction and more.
Michael, Josh and Louis rob and kill Louis uncle for money and rob Ms. Elmira Jones of her diamond rings. This is the straw that will break all three and forever change their lives. Winding up in jail but protected by a judge in their town, we can only hope that the police department of these small towns will win out and teach these boys a lesson in life they won’t ever forget and maybe learn from.
But, learning from their mistakes was not what happened. Brianna spent her entire life blaming her parents and Josh for what she endured in her life. Blaming Benny, the boy’s father and Bredlove and anyone else that she could for her own mistakes instead of taking ownership of them and moving forward.
Anger and hate are terrible and can eat away at the core of your being as they did to not only Brianna, Josh. Mack and Louis.
With the tenacity and persistence of a bloodhound and the perseverance and diligence he could muster, Captain Beck of Georgia, CSI Trip and Detective Askew managed to do the impossible, break the case and thwart the efforts of a corrupt judge to make the entire matter go away.
Children are our most precious diamonds and they deserve a change to have love, understanding and nurturing. Although Josh was able to finally reunite with Ms. Amy and heard her words before being taken away to prison, he never quite accepted the fact that it was his fault and he was responsible for his actions and he now had to pay for his crime.
Without the love or a parent it is hard for children to live life and understand that are special and worth something. Working with children who had learning disabilities was what I am proud to say I did for over 36 years in the NYC Public School system. I encountered many like Josh many like Mack and fortunately not too many that were like Louis. But, the one thing I will say is that the author has it right when she states in the Afterword of this book that many times people do not understand children that need that extra bit of understanding and love. All too often when children act out in public they parent is blamed and wrongly accused of misconduct toward the child. All of us learn at a different pace and all of us learn discipline in many different ways. But, what everyone needs and what Josh and Brianna never did is LOVE. The last line of this book gives up hope that maybe by seeing Ms. Amy and listening to her words that this mother and son might yet be saved.
Stop saying it is not your fault and learn from your mistakes and you will be ten steps ahead. Yelling at children and physical discipline is wrong. Coming from a home where my parents never yelled or inflicted physical punishment to any one of us, myself, my sister or my brother, I can honestly say that explaining, talking and patience works better. I never blamed anyone for my errors and I know I have made some too. But, I will say it is no one’s fault but my own that I love this book and it should be on the shelves of every high school, college, parent and teenager’s shelf to learn the harsh realities that face you when you say: IT IS NOT MY FAULT.
I give this book FIVE NEW STARTS FOR JOSH AND FIVE I AM TO BLAME FOR BOTH JOSH AND BRIANNA AND TWO UNTANGLED MINDS WITH RENEWED LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING
Fran Lewis: Reviewer
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|Tangled Minds is a masterpiece. In the fine tradition of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Yvonne Mason leads the reader through the twisted and tangled lives of Brianna Van Pelt and her son, Josh, thrusting us into a Pygmalion dilemma that has consumed scholars for decades. Is there such a thing as a “bad seed”, an individual whose feet are placed upon a path of crime and evil almost from the beginning? If the circumstances of one’s birth or the choices one makes cannot be overcome with love, patience and the rarely grasped opportunity for redemption, what chance is there for any of us?Thwarted by her parents’ tough love, seventeen-year-old, single mother, Brianna, allows herself to be drawn into a new world glittering with easy money and false promises, accepting that proposition that no good girl ever should. With her young son, Josh, in tow, she dazzles with new prosperity, fulfilling the fantasies of not only her glorified pimp, Ken Morgan, but those of a judge and a host of depraved, desperate men in their wake. Ms. Mason’s familiarity with the legal system and law enforcement showed through clearly in several well orchestrated scenes, as the long arm of the law repeatedly tried to halt the ring of drugs and prostitution and Brianna and her son fled for the safety of the mountains.Ms. Mason’s understanding of mountain people was stellar. These simple folk protect their own with fierce loyalty and Brianna and Josh find shelter beneath their net of poverty, love, moonshine and madness. Here, transgressors simply disappear, never to be heard from again and the mountains hold their secrets close to their chests as nature smoothes the pothole’s dark waters and envelops the hills in song and greenery. Even murder seems somehow justified in a place such as this, but the twisted and convoluted logic of its inhabitants finds no sympathetic ear in the outside world and Josh must ultimately face the consequences of his actions.
And yet, within this story, there lies hope. In Hannah and Miss Amy, we see the opposing force of love, the light of goodness that can blaze through even the meanest dark, if only one has the courage to reach for it. Fragile yet steadfast, this gentler emotion finally reaches even Brianna, a woman some would have classified beyond redemption. In love’s golden glow, we find hope, hope for Brianna and Josh and perhaps even for ourselves, as well.
Tangled Minds should be required reading for every high school senior or college freshman, although its audience is clearly much wider. Life is, indeed, full of choices and consequences. An individual may be able to run fast and far, but in the end, he cannot outrun the ultimate judge – himself. True redemption begins from within. May love’s tiny flame light the way as we reconcile our past, lift our face into the winds of change and set our feet once more upon the good road. An excellent read! This book can be purchased at Lulu.com, amazon.com, http://thebookattic.ecrater.com
Ann B. Keller, Author
The Devils Crescent