Teacher writes ‘To Soften the Blow’

Thomas Friestad, Editor-In-Chief

English teacher Lynnie Vessels caters to a broad audience in her book “To Soften the Blow,” which includes a multitude of vignettes on her traumatic childhood. The book is both empowering and relatable to student readers who have endured a loss, and can provide solace for those dealing with recurring high school hardships.

Early in the book, Vessels details a horrific instance during which she and her siblings witnessed her father shoot and injure her mother with a shotgun. Although she experienced painful post traumatic stress from the event, she gained new perspective on life from a 20 minute conversation with an empathetic, motivational principal. Despite experiencing a series of unfortunate failures in the following years, including a divorce, she was able to draw from her past to overcome her inner demons and become a stronger individual.

While students are given reflective novels, such as Harry Mulisch’s “The Assault” and Bao Ninh’s “The Sorrow of War,” Vessels delves deeper into the impact her past had on her life, and the lessons readers can take away from the book. She goes a step beyond leaving these lessons open to interpretation, discussing how readers can accept themselves despite their hardships and become a warrior at heart, with the ability to deal with similar future trauma.

In addition to her tact handling her anecdotes and the lessons they hold, Vessels utilizes the perfect writing style while conveying these vital components of her book. Her voice is delightfully conversational, keeping the reader’s attention without devolving into a preachy mess, which can be the case for similar novels. Vessels is also straightforward, not embellishing her life story in any way for the sake of entertainment, but still producing an enjoyable experience through and through.

“To Soften the Blow” is not a book to be taken lightly, but is an empowering, relatable experience from a well-known member of the community.