April 21, 2015
I mean, not "like" like, because I expected it to be triggering, and it was.
Reasons why you should read this book:
*Some of the most accurate descriptions of the type of "spankings" I survived that I've ever read
*Actual quotes from "child-training" manuals - while names were fictionalized, the quotes were straight James Dobson / Michael Pearl / Roy Lessin / insert name of child-abuse-advocate-here
*Excellent understanding of what it's like to live with PTSD - I found the descriptions accurate enough that I'll be sharing them with those I love, because it's written in such a way that it clarifies some of the mechanism behind PTSD caused by childhood horror
*While I was homeschooled and thus avoided the school-administered "paddlings", I've read enough news stories to appreciate the frank depiction of this, as well as the mechanism behind other adults not speaking up
*As someone who attended church 5 to 8 times a week until I was 13, and up to 5 times a week for many years after, I found this book described all too well what it was like to sit in a church service and smile, not daring to move any other part of my body, while adults chuckled and reminisced and "Amen'd" over administering "godly discipline".
Reasons why you may not want, or be able, to read this book:
*The language - while I've been known to let fly with some choice words every now and again, this novel contains lots of swearing and vulgarity. I think the usage of it will, unfortunately, alienate the audience who most needs to read this type of book.
*The graphic sexual acts depicted - again, this story is very gritty, very realistic. While I've never been a cocaine-addicted hooker, and while I was fortunately spared growing up with one as a parent, I'm assuming this portion of the book was as well-researched and thought through as the other portions were.
*The overall dark tone...I don't read crime novels for sparkly rainbows and flying unicorns, and I understand that some are darker than others. However, as an abuse survivor, I didn't (and don't) find solace and healing in anger, rage, and violence. Each survivor has a unique tale, and mine is one of seeking to do enough good in this world to balance out the evil I grew up with. So the sheer anger/hopelessness was difficult to read.
*Suicide. Attempts, success...extremely triggering for those with suicidal ideations or past attempts. Again, I've never wanted to kill myself or anyone else, but this felt like an unnecessary part of the plot to me.
*Graphic child sexual abuse. Again, accurate. Again, this happens way more often than people would like to think (I found a poem I'd written about my childhood, shared on a p*rn site for fetishists.) It's the icky part of all the "discipline" that polite people don't like to mention.
*Child protagonist as a murderer, and the extremely detailed depictions of his revenge-oriented crime spree.
Overall, I think the thing that troubled me the most was that this book was too condensed. While the author did a decent job of pulling the storyline together, my experience is that the worlds he mentioned don't usually collide this way. Yes, child abuse happens, and yes, child abuse rings exist, and yes, I think many parents don't want to acknowledge the inherent sexual abuse in spanking.
However, I'm not sure of the audience for this book.
*Survivors are going to be triggered, and if rage is their thing, find it cathartic but revenge-prompting
*Christians on the fence about spanking are going to be turned off by the extreme and frank sexuality, violence, and language - the message of the actual quotes used in this book is overshadowed by descriptions of topless shock-rocker parties
*People turned on by children being beaten and humiliated will find ample fodder here for their fantasy life...and pointers on how to groom future victims
*The average parent who gives the occasional swat will not find anything to identify with, here (and therefore no motivation to stop)
Much like this book, I don't have the answers, I guess...but I do applaud the effort this author made.