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Reviews of Vagilantes:

“A down-to-earth drama about the impact of child sexual abuse, woven into a creative murder mystery. Vagilantes raises the level of conversation to a rousing call for action. The more we talk about child sexual abuse, the more likely we can prevent it.”

Feather Berkower, MSW – Co-author, Off Limits: A Parent’s Guide to Keeping Kids Safe from Sexual Abuse

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Vagilantes provides an intimate and scorchingly detailed picture of how one woman, Rayanne, struggles with the long term effects of child sexual abuse.  Alcohol abuse, shame, impaired relationships, all play a role in destroying her life.  When she is unexpectedly confronted with her perpetrator, she takes dramatic action to protect other young children from such abuse.  She garners support from friends to confront and battle this problem in her home community as well as in society at large.   You may feel alternately dismayed at her naivety, yet want to cheer her on.”

Paul A. Hansen, PhD  –   Author of “Survivors and Partners, Healing the Relationships of Sexual Abuse Survivors”

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Posted on Amazon.com   5-star review:

Don’t shy away from this book!

Pedophilia is not an easy topic. People shy away from it, because it’s embarrassing, it’s unpleasant, it’s shameful.

But, it is that very reticence of talking about it that let’s these predators continue to do what they do–victimize children. Vagilantes is a novel that makes talking about it more acceptable–one that says: this happens to people, and they are not alone.

Lest you get the idea that it’s all a serious downer, let me describe the set up. It follows the journey of one woman who discovers that the victimizer of her own childhood has moved in next door–and he’s still at it. Understandably, Rayanne’s long buried memories and fears surface–leading her to want to stop this man from hurting kids–once and for all. And yet, there are moments of humor–Rayanne is likable.

She begins to plot murder. But plots sometimes go awry, and an unexpected twist occurs. The events of Rayanne and her perpetrator becomes part of a larger story, when women in Boulder, Colorado band together to raise awareness, and prevent child sexual abuse. And like most such efforts it’s not without the complications caused by differing personalities. You know the ones. Get a bunch of women together and sparks fly–especially when they care so much about a cause.

Though these women never intended it … pedophiles begin to die.

This book begins with suspenseful action and doesn’t let up. Ms. Golden has created full, realistic characters with which readers will empathize. What happens to Rayanne is unexpected. Along the way, Golden drops little details of life in Boulder, that paint a vivid picture of what makes Boulder weird–but in a good way.

This book is a good read, and a page-turner–I finished it in one night–I had to. It was that good. A strong first novel, and I hope not the last from Julie Golden.

Disclosure: I received this book free as a gift.–I did read it–cover to cover in one sitting. And it’s a powerful story–well worth your reading it. I won’t forget it for a long time.

Sue Campbell, cover designer –  March 20, 2012

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SPOILER ALERT! Big time spoiler alert, and an exceptionally honest opinion.
The following message / review was received September 25, 2012, from a reader, Emily. It is posted here with permission, after the reader and the author of Vagilantes exchanged several messages. An initial response from Julie Golden follows Emily’s original comments:
“I bought your book a while ago, but it took me a long time to pick it up and start to read it, for personal reasons, and I’m pretty sure you can guess what they are. Anyway, I just finished the book yesterday. I see what you were trying to do, I really do, but it left me sick, and not because of what happened to the kids, but because of the way you ALLOWED Rayanne to die. Yes, I know, she is a fictional character, and that makes me even more mad, if that makes any kind of sense, I guess because as fiction, there is supposedly more control over what was written than fact? What really pissed me off and disgusted me and left me in tears was how I was following the story not knowing where it would lead, but when you had Jena being a FUCKING BITCH when she was talking about Rayanne and THEN even Linda and Celia agreed, I was beyond flabbergasted, I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I know that wasn’t the reaction that you were going for with your story, it was supposed to focus on the damage done to children, but what I saw was two other women who basically let one woman talk shit about someone else behind her back and then abandoned her because she wasn’t making enough progress fast enough for them. Seriously, all the other women were of a better “class” middle or upper class too, but Rayanne was simply a “Maid” so I guess that made her EXPENDABLE?? And what the fuck, that “Psychic” Linda can sense a soul dying and can’t even offer false comfort to a spirit saying of course things will be better, never mind being “gifted” enough to know when a soul is in so much agony that they are suicidal in the first place? It was like the women had their projects, and if Rayanne wasn’t advancing fast enough to help out in their projects, well then, screw her??? And what kind of FUCKED UP “shaman” writes someone off and refuses to help her because she’s “blocked”. THAT IS WHY RAYANNE DIED, AND FOREVERMORE IN MY MIND I BLAME PEOPLE WHO WEREN’T THERE, I BLAME THE SHAMAN, LINDA, CELIA, AND JENA!

oh wow, yes, we can’t name is (it) Rayanne’s Rules, because then THEY WOULD HAVE TO REMEMBER HER EVERY SINGLE DAY! But she was just another story to them, and a not interesting enough one. I mean, the part that really pissed me off about the fucking book was that I had thought it might be good, that it might help, but I swear, it has only pissed me off.

Yes, I have been suicidal, no, no one helped me out, I got through it on my own to the other side, but let me tell you, if I had ever met people like that cunt Jena, and Rayanne’s other FAKE friends, I would have ended up dead. What PISSED ME OFF MORE THAN ANYTHING IS THINKING OF ALL THAT PRIVATE SPA SHIT AND ALL THE OTHER HAPPY HORSHIT THAT RAYANNE COULD HAVE BENEFITED FROM, WHY DIDN’T LINDA GET A VIBE THAT RAYANNE NEEDED THAT FUCKING SHIT MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE AND BRING HER???

yes, I’m angry, so angry I’m shaking. In the book, only the women who have a purpose get to live, but the one most hurt and in most need, you have not only kill herself in the book, but even go so far as to hint her spirit in the next life will be miserable too??? THAT’S BEYOND FUCKED UP IN MY BOOK.

I wanted to read this book and confront some things within myself, and I did manage to do that, but it also made me realize what a fucking snob it was who WROTE THIS SHIT. Kill the maid, what the hell, she was a liar, prolly never got raped, prolly never killed that guy, she’s just a drunk and a loser.

FUCK YOU. REALLY. JUST FUCK YOU.

one thing at least. Writing this was very therapeutic for me, so I do thank you for that. It also made me very sad, because here I was hoping that I might find somehow a group that really gave a shit instead of pretending to, that maybe I could see if I could somehow find people doing more than lip service. But I really don’t believe it of you, because otherwise you wouldn’t have been so quick to write off a freakin character. If you do that with fictional people that don’t suit your purposes, I don’t want to think about what you do with real people.”

Response sent  to Emily by Julie Golden on September 25, 2012
“It’s sad to say, but you are the first reader to really understand this aspect of the story. Certainly, the first one with the insight and the strength to say so.
Yes, the woman in Rayanne’s life let her down…or put her down. It just got worse and worse as you turned the pages. I intended to show, without clearly stating, that they all failed her. (Jena did make one small comment that recognized their failure, on page 218, before Linda lapsed into another of her lofty lectures.) Some of the women symbolized Rayanne’s mother, repeatedly giving lip service yet leaving her adrift.
Women, generally, have failed to protect children from sexual abuse. If they instructed and watched over their own kids, they often shunned those who were damaged and most needed help. We all know of children who turned to their mothers with words of truth and the mothers turned their backs. That’s sick!
I wanted to express that sickness. I wanted to upset some people. I didn’t want the story to have a happy ending – because our culture is still leaving too many abused children alone, ashamed and suicidal. Weak and exploited, they struggle to become healthy adults. When they are older, they hear, ‘Ok, we listened to your sad story, now get over it.’
Our society doesn’t yet deserve a happy ending. I hope that Vagilantes will stir up enough muck that readers will talk more honestly about how we can make real changes.
Much good is being done too, but that’s not the topic of our connection today. (Yesterday, I had an exchange with a woman who is doing wonderful work. In contrast, I could raise the hair on the back of your neck with an real example of how our local safehouse greatly failed a woman associated with one of their projects when she found herself in the national spotlight.)
Your words, Emily, are harsh. I respect every one of them. It took seven months, but finally a message such as yours arrived, and I feel less alone. It was not your intention, but you have sent hope and caused a big smile.
Will you give me permission to post your message, alone with my response, as a review on the Vagilantes site? If so, please let me know if you want your name to appear or not.
I’m working on the second book in the Vagilantes series. If you want, I’ll listen to your true story as inspiration and possible material. Or, perhaps you want to write something which I can post under the Vagilantes Press link on the site. (See Nancy’s story – note her mother’s response.)
Thank you, thank you, thank you for not reading Vagilantes as simply distasteful fluff with an amusing title.”
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