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,
Obviously a love it or hate it book. The reviews on amazon are either one star or five stars. Unless it was an actual memoir I probably wouldn't read it. And it's not that I shy away from hard, ugly truths, by any means. I just prefer to know they are the truth, I guess, in cases like this. Glad you liked it, though.ReplyDelete
I read some of those one-star reviews. I don't find them credible. They seem an attack on the author rather than a critique of the book.Delete
I want to read that book. I want to read basically everything you recommend. But I don't have any money to buy books. I'm gonna have to make a list of every book that I want.ReplyDelete
Do you have an Amazon wish list? Mine is huge. I keep adding books to it, and when the prices come down and I have a gift card, then I buy.Delete
Terrific book review. I am not sure I can read this bookReplyDelete
My abuse was verbal that grew. The lasting effect on my children from their father is for me a tough pill to sallow.
Your naughty gud dug is very cute !
Sadly, that naughty dog, like Elvis, has left the building.Delete
Hi Janie - an excellent book to highlight .. there is way too much abuse happening.ReplyDelete
Have a peaceful weekend ... and as you say abuse is just abuse - appalling and so unfair. Hilary
Thank you, Hilary. I always appreciate your visits and kind comments.Delete
Hi, Janie! I agree that the cover of Nothing In Particular arouses curiosity. The paragraph you quoted is disturbing and reminds us that too many of our children are "raised," not in a home, but in a house of horrors, and a good number of them have parents who are pillars of the community. I have heard people use the dismissive words "you little shit." One of my close relatives routinely said that when addressing his children and I experienced their pain vicariously.ReplyDelete
Thank you for this book report. Bullying and other forms of abuse don't go away when we stop discussing them. If we get depressed just thinking about the problem imagine what life is like for the actual victims.
Life is horrible for some people, but sometimes it gets better. Thanks, Shady.Delete
Sounds like a great - albeit sad - book! I think some of it would be too close to home for me.ReplyDelete
Just finished "The Goldfinch." Well-loved and won a Pulitzer Prize, but I was so disappointed in it, though I did finish.
Probably my all-time favorite books are Fiction: "Leaving Home" by Garrison Keillor, and NonFiction: "She Got Up Off the Couch" by Haven Kimmel (sequel to "A Girl Named Zippy" - also awesome.
I keep hearing about The Goldfinch--that it's so well written, but a lot of people don't really like it. I like everything I've ever read by Garrison Keillor. I've heard of A Girl Named Zippy, but haven't read it. I love Jennifer Worth's memoirs, and those of Mary Karr. So many books to read, so little time.Delete
Sounds very realistic. YA? Hmmm.ReplyDelete
I'll put this one on my lengthy TBR list.
I find the YA label confusing. I think older teens might want to read this book, but I wouldn't give it to a thirteen year old.Delete
Sounds like a good read....I'll get it and see if my book club would like to read it.ReplyDelete
Sounds like a plan, Linda. I wish I could visit your book club.Delete
It sounds like a tough book and you are so brave to have gone there. I'm not sure too many survivors can put themselves through that. Thank you so much for sharing this story and your own, and for your words at the end.ReplyDelete
"We need to read these accounts, whether they are fact or fiction, because knowledge is power." In light of this, have you heard of the Georgia boy who was beaten by his parents after he came out? He got it in video and uploaded it to YouTube. It's very powerful, and while upsetting it demonstrates that indeed, some parents (in this case mom, dad, AND grandma) really are that vile. Trigger warning on this, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUab4o_O9zgb7lfCgcUo8yxQ&v=1df_i26wh-w
I watched the video. A good ole fashioned beating in the name of God. That's not what Christianity is about. Thanks for sharing.Delete
That sounds like a powerful book. People who have experienced bullying and abuse could probably relate.ReplyDelete
Yet one of the accusations against the writer and the book is that it's unrealistic. Having lived with a psychotic person, I know it's very realistic.Delete
It's hard to imagine anyone calling their child, "You little piece of shit." I just wasn't raised that way. Respect is one of the first things children should receive and learn to give.ReplyDelete
If you haven't experienced something, then it can be difficult to imagine. That's one of the reasons we read: we learn from the words of other people.Delete
As a rule, I tend to shy away from books about abuse of any kind. They hit too closely to home and give me nightmares. (What a weinie... after all these years, I can still have nightmares about it...) Strangely enough, my next novel will include abuse... it I ever get around to finishing it. I think writing about the topic will be more cathartic than reading about it, if that makes sense.ReplyDelete
It makes perfect sense. You need to let it out, not take it in.Delete
I agree that books like these need to be read so people know that there ARE monsters out there. I wasn't bullied by my parents but I was bullied at school and it has had a lasting effect on me. I sometimes wonder who I'd be if things had been different.ReplyDelete
I've wondered the same thing. What if my mother hadn't told me I'd never be able to hold down a job and I'd better get married or I wouldn't have anything?Delete
Oh wow. I don't think I could endure a book like that. It's just too hard to read about someone being abused!ReplyDelete
I understand that some people can't read certain books.Delete
Just in yesterday's paper..."Extreme child abuse alleged in (nearby) county...".ReplyDelete
The kid got away and ran to a sheriff's deputy. $1 million bond for each abuser (alleged).
Gutsy kid. They tied him to the floor.
How old is he? Amazing he got away. I remember quite some time ago some "parents" put some of their kids out in the snow and cold. One of the boys was fed up and walked, barefoot, to get help. I'll stop there and just say all the kids were rescued.Delete
Probably, I will not pick this up. I kind of hate first person/present, which would be enough for me not to want to read it, right there.ReplyDelete
Also, I have to say, I'm just not interested in reading more abuse stories.
Wow, sounds like quite an intense read. How wonderful that you had the opportunity to engage with the author, too.ReplyDelete
She's very nice. Asking an author questions about the work is so interesting.Delete
The age of social media at its best.Delete
Physical and mental abuse is so awful that I don't think I could read this book. I know it happens and in places you may not expect it to in the conventional sense, as you say the father was a 'pillar of the community' and trusted by his peers so they were obviously turning a blind eye. Such a brave young woman. I hope she goes on to have a good life.ReplyDelete
I understand how you feel.Delete
I don't find it hard to imagine a parent talking to a child that way; I've got a little experience being that child. Life goes on; not to belittle the situation, but to say that sometimes that just makes a person stronger - the opposite of the original intent. I would wish for all children the fortitude to be strengthened by adversity, rather than be beaten down by it.ReplyDelete
The hardest part is that these comments come from people you love. Most children would never say they hated a parent who talked to them like that. Boy, that will mess with your mind, big time.
Great post, Janie!
Love ya, Cherdo
Thank you, Cherdo. I have experience, too, and knowing I'm not alone helps me. I think everything I've gone through has made me much stronger. I am stronger than my final abusers.Delete
I left a comment here yesterday, but I don't know if it got lost in the ether, or if you simply haven't gotten around to patting it on its head and granting your approval... (In case it did get lost, I DID comment!)ReplyDelete
Not lost. I'm slow about publishing and responding to comments because I went swimming yesterday afternoon. It was a heavenly afternoon to be in the pool, which I had almost completely to myself. Five other people were there, then two, and then it was all mine for hours.Delete
Well, unfortunately, as a high school teacher, I see the abuse a lot. Admittedly, my students usually suffer from psychological abuse (or well hidden physical abuse), but you're right--it happens ALL the time. I'm thankful for books like this that expose and hopefully educate as well.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you're the kind of teacher who acknowledges reality and doesn't pretend it doesn't happen, or just plain doesn't believe.Delete
What a powerful read. I know that there are books I can't touch because they trigger bad emotions in me, but, often that's what makes them catnip.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing. And, thanks for NOT BULLYING!
Thank you for joining us. I don't read everything about abuse that's available, but I usually know when a book is special and it's something that will help me.Delete
I like the idea of sharing a good book read during the past month. Thanks for this review.ReplyDelete