Tracks of My Tears
By: Barry Hoffman
Reviewed by Rick Hipson
With the final words from the last pages only moments behind me, Track of My Tears leaves much to be digested. Across the spectrum of so many moving parts my rolling emotions constitute Barry Hoffman’s most ambitious, gut-wrenching novel to date. Never one to shy away from putting a spotlight on the taboo to better understand it, Barry Hoffman delves into the polarizing subject of date rape without pulling punches were most writers fear throwing them in the first place. The author manages to drive home the chain reaction of anger, shame and frustration following sexual assault with delicate, yet lethal precision while also ensuring due depictions are given to the tremendous courage and caring that goes into the healing process. As much as tragedy is the catalyst for Track of My Tears, Barry keeps a steady focus on the regaining of his character’s lives in the aftermath of their trauma, which separates this book from being just another venture into seeing how much punishment our senses can take.
Inspired – or provoked – by the real-life scandal at Baylor University in 2016, Barry takes us on a harrowing path snaking through a maze of conspiracies involving unwitting student bodies, key faculty members and a rare few determined to dig up the truth and put the wrong things right no mater what.
The story starts when a student named Cassidy makes a 911 call only to be intercepted by campus security. Instead of filing rape charges with the police as intended, she is instead convinced to allow the university to handle the investigation on their terms. She’s even offered free immediate counselling and a part time job provided she let them do their own due diligence and avoid getting the police involved. Little did this student – or several others – know, but having her case dismissed as nothing more than a he said she said incident that was impossible to prove was only a small thread in the overall web of lies and cover ups she was about to uncover. Desperate to have her story heard and believed and to save her own sanity, Cassidy enlists the help of an unorthodox detective from the DA’s office who makes it her personal mission to uncover the link between student athletes and the unreported date rapes running rampant throughout the campus.
Between utilizing his personal experience as a teacher and being a writer/publisher well accustomed to unpacking controversy, Barry provides an unwavering voice where one needs to be heard loud and clear. This is a novel that’s bound to be just as important years from now as we all become more aware of our social responsibility to help protect one another no matter how ugly the truth may be.
As thought provoking and well written as Track of My Tears is, don’t expect an easy read. This one’s bound to resonate long after you’ve put it down and will no doubt birth more questions than answers. Part crime novel, part social horror, Track of My Tears is all heart despite in its unravelling of the all too human monsters hidden in plain sight. Highly recommended.