Oh this book. If you've not read it you probably have heard of it and how horrible the events that unfold within it is. I remember being a teenager- about 14 or so- and this book was on everyones tongue. I think now about my 14 year old friends reading this book and, having literally just finishing it, I can't imagine how their unexperienced minds processed what they just read!
I'm not too sure where to start. I think first I'll say it's a very quick read, it's a very short book. I didn't realise it was such a short book till it ended- almost abruptly!- that's not including the epilogue.
The structure of this book is a bit all over the place, you're not going to be reading any literary masterpiece but for someone who was just putting out into the world his own account of a very horrible case of child abuse, he wrote it rather well. The timeline gets a bit muddled but because he recalling from his own memory I imagine it's hard to really pin point when certain events happened. It's more or less a bit like reading a police statement from a child giving all the evidence he can of years of abuse.
You don't get any answers here, you don't really understand one parent did what they did and the other did what they did. But again it's told from memory and perhaps he never knew either. You're not going to get other peoples accounts of the situation. It is all just from the memory of one man.
As far as the severity of the abuse written within this book goes, I was questioning A LOT as to how sincere or truthful these events were. Some of it did just seem so far fetched, it really did, and not just 'gosh this is so harrowing it can't be true' it was more 'I really don't believe this happened like this' but again, it's a story being told by memory. Some things may have been exaggerated in his mind. And also, it is set in 70's america. A very different time then. And shocking child abuse does still happen today that does go completely unnoticed. I'm sure many of us from the UK will remember little Daniel Pelka who died aged 4 after being severely starved and beaten for months on end by his mother and her partner. It is stated on Wikipedia that they would lock him in a room, force feed him salt and put his head underwater in the bath and only weighed 1stone 9lbs ( 23lb) when he died. This mirrors some of what you read in the book and this only happened in 2012 and it was shockingly missed. You can imagine this happening 40 years ago how easily missed it would have been then.
It's not a book anyone can say is 'good' because.. it's not supposed to 'good' it's supposed to be an eye opener. I'm glad I have finally read it and I may read the other two books that follow this book (the second one follows him in foster care and the third follows him as an adult)