The Struggle Within: A Novel

Where to Buy

The best way to purchase The Struggle Within is directly from me (currently, Amazon is listed it as “out of stock.” Please email to request a copy. Shipping is free!

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The Struggle Within: A Novel features diverse characters, page-turning action, and ethical ambiguities that will leave your book club talking for hours.

As a counselor at the maximum-security Arnone State Correctional Facility, Beth Sharpe sees potential in intelligent prisoners like José Ayala. She teaches them about historical figures who confronted their oppressors, and she encourages them to overcome obstacles, both those of their own making and those imposed on them by society. When their only chance for redemption is taken away from them, José and other prisoners follow Beth’s advice and take a stand against the injustice.

But a deadly prison riot is not what she had in mind.

Imagine a friendship between Fern from Charlotte’s Web and Jax from Sons of Anarchy, and you will understand the dynamics between the protagonist Beth Sharpe and the leader of the prison riot, José Ayala.

Indiscretions become public, and mistakes have dire consequences. Beth is determined to end the violence, and she is willing to risk her own life to save others. Can she stop the carnage and help the prisoners achieve justice another way? Can she balance her conflicting loyalties and find a peaceful resolution to the riot? Can she live with herself when she understands the true impact of her decisions?

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If you are looking for a quick read to be passed along from friend to friend, this is not that book. They’ll need to buy their own darn copy! This book awakens the mind with complex characters and hidden lessons. It will cause you to stop reading mid sentence to research the Tutsi and Hutu people of Ethiopia and other historical/literary references. You’ll drift off to sleep even more curious about the Krueger’s childhood. You’ll wake up anxious yet thirsty to plunge back into the chilling world of the Arnone Correctional Facility. My copy of “The Struggle Within” will remain on my bookshelf as a treasured reminder; “if there is no struggle, there is no progress.” This lesson transcends all others.

— Lori, Amazon Review

I finished this book in almost one sitting as it was so engaging. I love fiction that makes you think, allows you to identify with the characters and is written in such a way that you can visualize the action. This book satisfied all these desires. Maybe it is the popularity of Orange is the New Black, but I could smell, feel and hear the sounds within this prison setting and feel the fear of the characters. Nagging questions as to personal values and expectations are left long after the last page is turned and this is a good thing. Well done Ms. Whelan and I look forward to future titles from you.

— Avid CT Reader, Amazon Review

I wanted to let you know that I just finished reading your book, The Struggle Within, and thought it was very exciting, interesting, and insightful.  It reminded me a lot of the Denzel Washington movie John Q, or something that Jodi Picoult would write.  The twist regarding ….(spoiler)… was definitely a surprise I did not see coming.  I am excited to see on your website that you are currently writing a new novel.  I look forward to that one as well. Again, I just wanted to say that your book was very well written and enjoyable, as well as thought-provoking.  I will try my best to convince any friends, family, and acquaintances to read it as well.

— Rob G, Goodreads Review

Great read! Was recommended to me from a friend. Kept my interest throughout. I like that it was told from two different perspectives.

— April, Amazon Review

After reading The Struggle Within I wished I was part of a book club to be able to discuss it with others. Fast paced and with distinct characters, the novel shows the chaos inside of a prison riot as well as the drama occurring outside as law enforcement tries to end it. Beth, a female prison counselor who had inadvertently inspired the inmates to revolt, becomes the best hope to negotiate a truce. I stayed up late, turning pages, wanting to know what would happen next. An exciting read!

 — Jody C, Amazon Review

Not the type of book a normally read, but was an interesting page turner that kept me on the edge of my seat and I needed to know what happened next. The explanation of characters made you feel like you understood then and their struggles!!

 — Liz, Goodreads Review

An interesting read that delves into some of our society’s pertinent issues with the fairness and adequacy, or lack thereof, of our overburdened prison systems. An also thoughtful statement on the definition of and pursuit of struggle as it pertains to an individual. I highly recommend taking the time to read this through to the end.

— Sharon, Amazon Review

Excellent read! Well developed characters. That you will love and hate at different parts. Great descriptive writing; easy to picture the scenes. Plenty of twists and turns that keep you reading until the last page. Can’t wait to see what this author does next!! Great read from a hot new author!!! Don’t miss!

— G. Lunsford, Amazon Review

This book is a must read! Brings you right into the situation as you not only empathize with but identify with all the characters. Difficult to put down!

— NEPC, Amazon Review

“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” . -Frederick Douglass . Thank you for the reminder Sarah Charbonneau Whelan. I finally read your book and it’s amazing! . For anyone that’s looking for something different than your usual read, I highly recommend “The Struggle Within: a novel”. . I’ve been reading the same type of books for so long that I forgot that lessons can be found everywhere! 📚❤️

— Jen O, Amazon Review
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