Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,
We head into the Labor Day weekend with The Cephalopod Coffeehouse.
The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.
To join us or to visit other participants, please click on The Armchair Squid, the blogger who is the host with the most. Here we go:
My brain sizzles. Flames shoot from my fingertips. Pyrotechnics explode where I dare to walk in my house. My eyes dive and pounce on the sentences. The words make me wince. Then I shout my approval. My book choice for August is Nothing In Particular by Kate LeDonne.
Trigger Warning: Book depicts severe abuse in a number of scenes.
Kiera Graves is a teen-age girl with big dreams who is stuck in a small town where she serves as a virtual slave to her abusive parents––especially her father, who is a school administrator and protected by the community––but every time they knock her down (literally and figuratively), she gets back up and defies them by surviving. She's supported in her struggle by a small group of close friends, a few adults who see the truth, and by disappearing into her love of music. It's the eighties. Welcome to Indiana.
Although Nothing In Particular is set in Indiana, it could just as easily be located in Florida or Alabama or Washington or . . . pretty much anyplace, I guess, because abuse doesn't have boundaries.
I liked this book as soon as I saw the cover. It's very creative.
About five minutes after I opened the envelope in which the book arrived, I began reading. I took time off from blogging to read––to read with particular care because this book means a lot to me, especially coming so soon after our series on bullying. Kiera is bullied in such an extreme fashion. Most of the kids in her high school hate her because she dares to be different. She's not another cow in the herd. She's intelligent and talented and so hard working.
I also relate to her parents calling her "you little shit" because that was my mommy's special name for me.
As I got into the book, I started to wonder if it hadn't been edited. I noticed some errors. But as I continued, I realized that it's written in stream of consciousness. Fortunately, the book includes information on how to contact the author. I took advantage of that situation and proceeded to (probably) make a pest of myself with questions. LeDonne confirmed that the book is stream of consciousness, but acknowledged that it has a few unintentional errors, although it was edited.
No, no, no, I protested. This book should have errors. Kiera is in a hurry. Everything is coming at her so quickly. She's telling her story as fast as she can, in the true voice of a teen-aged girl. Mistakes are natural and appropriate.
You know the errors are okay when your Queen of Grammar approves of them.
LeDonne's voice is powerful, and her story is credible. Anyone who thinks that what Kiera experiences could never really happen knows nothing about abuse and the power of a psychotic authority figure:
I remain in a ball. If I uncurl, he will beat me worse than if I can protect my abdomen. I cry and whimper for him to stop. Through my tears, I see my mother standing at the door watching, with a taunting smile. My father drops me like a sack of laundry and I try to scoot away. He kicks me in the head really hard. That's the last thing I remember. Living here is like living in a house that is burning down, and the windows and the doors have been nailed shut.
I feel very moved by Nothing In Particular, which earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Highest Approval. If you're afraid of reading it, I understand. I offer a small spoiler: Kiera will be okay. I relate to the portrayal of abuse, but it didn't send me into intense, wailing anxiety. This kind of book is important because some people don't believe this sort of thing happens. They don't believe that a trusted figure in the community and his attractive wife might be assaulting their child. Often, Kiera's most basic needs aren't met. She doesn't even get to eat regularly. And medical care? Forget about it. That's a reason for another beating.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this kind of garbage happens all the time. We need to read these accounts, whether they are fact or fiction, because knowledge is power.
I received my copy of Nothing In Particular in exchange for an honest review. I don't think I can be more honest about this book. It's excellent. If you're an eighties music fan (Nicki Elson), then you'll really love it.
You can purchase it in multiple places:
Barnes & Noble Nook Book at http://goo.gl/ZBOf86
From Amazon at http://goo.gl/XU2ZSP
The link I provide for Amazon will lead you to the softcover version of the book. They also have the Kindle version, just as Barnes & Noble has the softcover.
I wish you a pleasant Labor Day weekend, and do me a favor, please? Don't bully anyone, and if you know of someone who is bullied, even if the bullying comes from family members, then please try to help that person. Some people may claim their bullying is a joke. It's kind of like someone who makes a racist statement and then says, I don't know why you're taking it that way. It's just a joke.
Abuse is no joke. It's just abuse.
Infinities of love,