Monday, September 28, 2015

Facing one's fears


In Carly, the protagonist has been through a horrendous ordeal; her cousin has disappeared, and her family was murdered in front of her by a crazy neighbor. Once in custody, Carly agrees to a meeting with a female reporter, Vanessa St John. Carly insists she tells the whole story in her words. 

While waiting for a reporter to interview her, Carly glances at a picture of her cousin Lisa--"happy, bright green eyes looked back" at her. I found this a charming thought. Then Carly insists on telling her story about James from the very beginning but it is not clear why. James seems to have charmed Carly's mother--"tough as old boots, but ... gullible as hell." This strikes me as an amiable but unlikely combination. Carly realizes she is "paranoid" but does not recognize the word "execrable." Overall, I'd say the author has drawn her characters with enthusiasm and liveliness. Both Carly and Vanessa show signs of an unrecognizable (to me) aggression or hostility or instability as well as personas that they each have forced themselves to adopt for their interview/confrontation. I found this disturbing but suspect that this is probably the effect the author intended.

A fascinating twist towards the end of the story has the reader wondering just who had engineered the interview.

In The Box, which twenty-seven-year-old Charlene and her sister Stacy find when their bullying, obnoxious father has a medical emergency, the sisters find a letter and personal effects that their father had kept for the fifteen years since they mother allegedly left them. The father had always told Charlene that her mother could not cope with her preteen tantrums and therefore abandoned them all. He alone had been there when Charlene was raped by his best friend and he took credit for comforting through her unwanted pregnancy.

What they learn from the items in the box changes everything--what really happened to their mother? It sets off a chain of events that uncovers more acts of gruesome brutality. Fortunately for this reader, there was more telling than showing of the years of abuse until their mother left and of subsequent heinous acts.

The story climaxes in a twist, as in Carly. Except this one also left me cheering.

Both these books are novellas which suits me since the genre, the stories of victims who suffered abuse as children, young adults and who witnessed similarly depraved abuse of humans and animals, take me outside my comfort zone. I do believe, however, that a writer needs to occasionally venture outside such personal limitations and "face my fears." (My five year old daughter told me that.)


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