(I should edit this but my head is angry today) A novella about a dream of family interrupted. Beautiful in its way...a demon child in the midst of the suburban dream. Simple and yet far from simple. Very much literature. The author is quite gifted, saying enough and...
(I should edit this but my head is angry today)
A novella about a dream of family interrupted. Beautiful in its way...a demon child in the midst of the suburban dream. Simple and yet far from simple. Very much literature. The author is quite gifted, saying enough and leaving enough unsaid.
Read for part of a challenge: "a book published when you were 10 years old" (I focused on the year I was actually 10 for all but 2.5 weeks vs the year I turned 10). I was drawn to it more than others on the lists of best novels from that year. The length helped for two reasons. First, if I''m picking a book to check a box vs picking a book first and then seeing if it fits (didn''t seem likely to hit this one organically) then short is a bonus, lower priority than content and the details in reviews. Second, I was glad it was short bc the description made me nervous about what I was getting myself into. I could probably read another from the year and use this for "a book you were afraid to to read".
Honestly, IMHO, it didn''t end up being scary, although it could inspire frightful trains of thought. It does peek in on lives built on joy then invaded by fear. Ben, the demon 5th child, is physically and functionally different. But he could stand in for a child who is emotionally distinct (e.g. families of serial killers and psychopaths...like some real examples of evil, Ben tortures and kills small animals...and esp terrifies the youngest of his older siblings). His mother is the protagonist and her -- I''m stuck on the right word, "torn-ness"(?)..."conflict" is right but feels imprecise -- between fear and mother-love is as central as in books like (my memory is hazy but just from the topic alone) We Need to Talk About Kevin. She cant let him be mistreated even if protecting one child puts four others (and a broader dream) at risk.
A side note: The author includes a child (mom''s niece) with Down''s Syndrome. It provides an interesting contrast ... a child who is different, physically and functionally, but most certainly not evil). The portrayal, which begins w pity and the child often being hidden to avoid discomfort, may be upsetting to some. The language isnt PC but probably true to life (as is someone calling out the language...which is interesting in that the language is deemed improper but trying to hide the difference is never debated). I''ve gone much longer than I planned but this character and the author''s choices here could be an interesting topic to unpack from so many different perspectives (literature, sociology, psychology, education)...as could the book a whole.
Recommended for lovers of literary literature (poorly phrased but I think those who qualify will know) ... it is a fairly easy and quick read but I think it will attract people who also read the stuff that teachers of literature assign without being "forced" ... especially those interested in sociology, the (dis)functioning of family units, motherhood (including the physical reality of growing and providing sustenance for another, eventually separate/other), how "normal" copes with "abnormal" (including (but,.as the prevalence paragraph notes, not limited to) the sort that might be evil)
Solid 4 stars. Maybe closer to 4.5
(Re the seller...arrived promptly and quality fit the description. Would certainly shop again. )