Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For?by Published 01 Jan 1970
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Alba Castillo has always been gutsy. A self-proclaimed rebel, she flees her small village in Spain for adventure and new life in the States. But what she meets instead is the devil himself. After several failed relationships, the charming and charismatic Peter seems like a gift from Heaven. Until he isn’t. Cruel, controlling, and malicious, Peter will stop at nothing to win, even if it means destroying Alba, and her children, in the process. Left with nothing but her spirit, Alba faces the fight of her life as she struggles to break free from a man who wants her very soul. Malice Intent chronicles Alba’s descent into Hell with a man who decimates everything innocent and precious, including her health, family, and sanity. How does one escape pure evil?
"Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For?" Reviews
I gave up on this book. I received a kindle version of it from a Goodreads giveaway, and I was excited to read it because of the subject matter and the great reviews on here. Now I'm wondering if I got the wrong book because this is one of the most poorly-written books I have ever come across.
First of all, there are glaring errors from the first page:
The traumas I have faced in my life included alcoholism, drug addition, rape, spousal abuse, betrayal, mental illness, cancer, and I have grappled with my own self-destructive tendencies.
These errors continue steadily throughout, from comma splices to run-on sentences. As a copy editor, I was cringing the entire time. It was ridiculous. Where was the editor for this book? Where was the copy editor? Where were the friends who could have given it a read-through before it was published? How did it get to this point with so many fixable mistakes?
However, even with the mistakes, I probably still could have gotten through the book if it had any redeeming qualities besides the potential to be a good story. I have read three memoirs in the past month (this one, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, and Relentless: How a Massive Stroke Changed My Life for the Better) and all of them were bodies with sturdy skeletons but no muscles to propel them forward and no skin to make them more appealing to the senses. These authors are the kind of people you meet, and when you talk to them and hear their stories, you say "Wow, that's incredible! You should write a book!" Easier said than done. We tend to think that an amazing story is what matters most, but that story is nothing without good (hell, even just decent will do sometimes) writing. The best writers can make the most mundane and ordinary stories exciting, but bad writers make the most amazing stories boring.
If Castillo really went through everything she says she did, I feel for her and I commend her for getting through it all and eventually living her best life. However, even with what little of this book I read, I found myself questioning her at every turn. For example, did she really send her infant on a plane alone? Is that even legal? And if it is (which I'm pretty sure it's not) how could she keep coming into the US without a passport?
When I wasn't trying to figure out the logistics of the situations Castillo kept getting herself into, I was confused about where she was at different points, both geographically and chronologically. For example, at one point in the book she mentions that her oldest child helps take care of both of her other kids, but at that point in the story, she only had two children and hadn't even mentioned that she eventually had another. Throw in all the times Castillo, her children, her family, and her ex change states, cities, houses, jobs, and countries, and you have a lot of confusion.
Furthermore, (and I hate to say this considering the subject matter of the book, but please hear me out) I had a hard time sympathizing with Castillo. It's not that I don't understand how serious addiction and abuse are and how they can both get you in situations you would never ordinarily be in and put your children in danger as well, even when you want to protect them. It's just that I don't feel like Castillo was as honest as she could have been. I can feel for a drug addict who has bought drugs instead of toys for their children--if I can see how they got to that point and if they own up to it. Castillo does not. Instead, she claims,
I didn't have the extra money to buy [her daughter, Hannah] anything...I would always have to repeat the painful truth. I told both of my children over and over again: "I'm sorry, sweetheart, but I don't have the money right now. I will work harder and hopefully buy things for you soon."
Castillo presents this as a fact; there was simply no money to spare. Yet, not even ten pages later, she casually states,
One day, after Peter came to the house, I left to go buy some cocaine, and when I didn't come back, my daughter called me to tell that Peter had left and gone home.
So not only was she quietly skirting around the fact that she did have extra money that could have gone toward her kids, but she also left her kids with a near stranger (He later buys a house for them to live in, and she mentions that she had known him for nine months at that point, and this was before that) who she also says (at the top of this same page) doesn't like and ignores her young daughter. All so she can go buy cocaine. And then that man leaves both of these children alone. I'm not sure how old her daughter was at this point because the timeline is confusing, but she mentions needing a babysitter for both of her kids around this time, so her daughter is not old enough to be alone or babysitting her brother.
Castillo never seems to fully grasp the horrible decisions she has made. Sometimes she will claim that she has apologized to her children (and of course, according to her, they tell her she was the best mom ever) or she mentions that she has ruined everything or that everything has gone downhill and that's it's all her fault, but it seems like she doesn't really believe it, that she wants readers to feel sorry for her or see her as the hopeless victim instead of as a person with flaws who has made some bad choices.
We never get to know Castillo or the other people in her life. Instead, we are shown situations with two cardboard cutouts. In the beginning, we see the cutouts of her family, the traditional, boring, judgmental people who only care about keeping up appearances. On the other side is Castillo, the unique spontaneous one who stands up to them all and doesn't care what they think. This pattern continues with slight alterations as the book continues. The unimaginative teacher who doesn't believe Castillo can make it out of her hometown against the adventurous young Castillo who leaves and does exactly what she set out to do, the unfair boss against the brave Castillo who gets what she's owed, the evil family and wife of her ex against Castillo, the mother who only wanted what was best for her daughter and trusted and loved too much, and so on and so forth.
There is no nuance or understanding of others, even when it comes to her own mother. We don't see the reasons why her mother was scared of what people would think when Castillo got pregnant. Instead, we are led to believe that her mother was completely cold and uncaring, again and again, until Castillo politely told her not to contact her, and then suddenly two weeks later she was remorseful. People don't work like that. Interactions between people are complex, and that's what I want to see in a book, whether it's fiction or nonfiction. Instead, I think the author is giving us the idealized version of events where she is always the one in the right. These biased cracks in the narration are especially clear in instances like when she says her child's father's family "accused" her of being married when she met him and then says right after "I was married when I met him."
What makes these plot points harder to believe is that Castillo has the classic beginner writer's problem of telling instead of showing. There are no real scenes, so it reads like someone just rattling off their story next to you on a park bench. That might work for a 20-45 minute conversation with someone, but it does not work in a memoir. When she does throw in a quote here and there, it doesn't sound like something a person would actually say in real life, like when her young daughter says,
Mom, David took the baby and me out in the car with him this morning. He was drinking a beer while he was driving. He drove to several houses to visit with his friends and left us in the car alone, waiting while he was inside. Then, on the way back to the house, he said to me, "Have you ever been touched by anyone?" and he placed his hand on my leg.
That sounds more like an adult giving a very matter-of-fact police statement than a child talking to her mother about a scary situation with an adult.
In other cases, the quotes not only sound unrealistic, but we have don't know the person well enough to feel much about them, such as when her daughter's father's new wife says,
I am Adam's wife. You are a bitch. Do you know what I'm going to do to you? I am going to take your daughter away from you. Then I am going to let every man alive fuck her anywhere, just like you were fucked. When they are done with her, I will give her away for adoption to someone who doesn't care about her or how much she's been fucked.
We never hear about this woman before this point or after (although I didn't finish the book so who knows) and Hannah's father never had anything to do with her, nor did his family, so this woman's threat didn't actually make me scared for Hannah. I was more scared for her because of the life she was actually living with her mother. That was actually real; it was happening. This felt like it had no chance of happening. It was just over-the-top and unnecessary to the story besides, again, trying to evoke sympathy for the author.
I read 77 pages of this book, and I could probably write just as many pages on how awful this book was. I haven't felt this disappointed in a book in a long time. Possibly ever.
Intense and gut-wrenching, Alba Castillo’s memoir, Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For?, presents the experiences of a Spanish woman whose fight for survival is inspiring. At a young age, Alba was always a dreamer, quite restless and with a thrill for adventure. She dreamed of what life would be like beyond her small hometown of Santa Ynez, Spain. Her dream came true one day. She finally got the opportunity to leave her home behind and go to Madrid and then to London. But life there was not exactly what she had imagined and soon enough she was back to searching for a place to call home. Her life would turn out to be a journey in which she would have to battle domestic violence, drug addiction, four bouts of cancer, the loss of a daughter to a self-seeking man, and unfathomable emotional pain.
Malice Intent’s narrative is laced with many lessons and invaluable advice. Alba Castillo balances emotional provocation and the narration of scenes. She articulates the purpose of the book impressively. Along the way, Alba’s grit in the midst of her mistakes became the source of hope for me that, despite everything, she would still pull through. Malice Intent’s pace is steady and this is achieved by the compactness of the narrative. Alba’s perspective is also clearly expressed. Writing is free-flowing, with a peek at the present covered in the epilogue. In the background, the story sheds light on the struggles of single parenthood, drug addiction, illness and the torment of domestic abuse.
Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For? by Alba Castillo is the author's memoir surrounding a life that began in Spain, but took her through several different countries as she pursued a better life as a single mother, usually with results that were rarely better. Castillo was raised in an isolated environment that was, by most standards, rural and anomalous. She was unable to finish secondary/high school after being guilted out of going by her well-intended but overbearing mother, and eventually sought work abroad. Initially accepting employment as an au par, Castillo was forced into varied forms of slavery, but found refuge at the gym, eventually becoming a personal trainer. Her journey went via rocky paths that could crush the strongest of individuals (single motherhood, abandonment, immigration and legal issues, drugs and alcohol, abuse, cancer...it just goes on and on), but she comes out ahead and is now ready to share her story with the world.
Malice Intent by Alba Castillo is a heartbreaking tale that ultimately details the resilience of women. I think a lot of times American immigration and refugee stories, particularly those told by single mothers and women seeking better opportunities on their own, don't get the recognition they deserve. The fact that Castillo survived odds that were stacked deeply against her on almost every front shows perseverance and fortitude in and of itself; but the fact that she did this as a single mother, without the legal benefits afforded to many in the states, and in the face of hardship - without English as a primary language - is almost miraculous. I'd recommend this story of everyday heroism to anyone looking for an inspiring read, and all the women out there in situations that feel beyond their control, who need to be reassured that there is a way out.
Review written for Readers' Favorite.
Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For? by Alba Castillo is the true story of a warrior, a survivor, and a woman who beat the odds to restore her dignity. Alba Castillo is born in Santa Ynez, a little village on the suburbs of Madrid. Driven by the desire to live a better life and to see better prospects, she travels to England where she learns English and then quickly finds herself in the United Sates. It’s in the US that her descent into hell begins. She gets into drugs and booze, experiences domestic and spousal abuse, betrayal, and cancer. She loses her youngest daughter to an abusive father. But how did she survive all this? How did she get to triumph over her self-destructive behaviors? This story shares secrets on how she trumped death and survived the worst, including painful cancer treatments and how she found the strength to love herself.
This is a beautiful story, raw and inspiring; it’s a story about resilience and courage. Alba Castillo may write in a clear and compelling voice, but it’s the ruthless honesty in the narrative that seduced me. The writing is beautiful and I loved the way the author allows the emotional and psychological implications of the story to come out. The theme of making wrong choices comes out brilliantly in the narrative and readers get the strong message that we are victims of our choices. Malice Intent: Is Love Worth Dying For? is a book about what the protagonist learned about inner strength and freedom and what her painful journey has taught her. You’ll find tools to beat self-destructive habits, make wise decisions in relationships, and find the strength to stand up for yourself.