Helping Women Find Strength: A Rose McClelland Book Review


According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, abuse is more than physical violence. Its definition is “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.” Domestic abuse can happen to people of any race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, educational level or economic status. Multiple forms of abuse can be present at the same time. It’s easy to know what to look for when it isn’t happening to you, but it can hide or present itself as something different when you’re the one involved. In order to shed a light on the topic and create a dialogue about its various forms, author Rose McClelland chose to write about it in her latest novel.

Under Your Skin shares one story in many different perspectives. Kyle comes home from work to find his wife, Hannah, missing. Hannah gives off the impression that she is kidnapped. Kerry, a detective of the police department, is assigned to Hannah’s missing persons’ case. Kate is in a relationship with Guy, Hannah’s co-worker, and is concerned with her disappearance. Julia attends the search party for Hannah and gets to know Kyle. Each chapter bounces between these characters and it turns out that there is a lot more about each of them than meets the eye.

It comes to light fairly quickly that Hannah is in an abusive relationship. She doesn’t admit it to herself for quite some time, and because of Kyle constantly gaslighting her, she thinks that she’s at fault or that it won’t happen again. She turns to alcohol and prescription drugs to get through her day, and even tries to leave him on multiple occasions. It’s difficult to read what she’s going through as it’s such a heartbreaking situation. She has no one to help her, no one to turn to. Even when she finds herself at a shelter, it isn’t long before she’s back with Kyle.

It becomes pretty easy to hate Kyle’s character and find reasons to dislike the other characters as well. Julia started out by wanting to aid in Hannah’s search party and ended up getting involved with a married man whose wife is missing. The detective is interested in her married partner and indulges in his flirtatious behavior. While Guy and Kate become important pieces to Hannah’s story, Kate’s treatment of Guy is hurtful. Despite all their flaws, the conversation about domestic abuse is the one that makes itself most known.

“My main priority as a writer is to hook the reader in, create suspense, and let the interesting themes come to light along the road,” McClelland said in a press release. “If this book raises awareness of domestic abuse and if it helps some women find strength, or identify a bad situation, I will be very pleased.”

Everyone deserves healthy relationships. If you need help and are ready to talk to someone about it, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7. Call 1-800-799-SAFE or visit thehotline.org.