I currently lie in my bed, staring at my bedroom walls, blank, expressionless. I have just finished this book, and now, I'm speechless. To look at the cover, examine it closely, it gives nothing away. Well, not to someone who hasn't read it, yet now, I've taken a second look, and this time, I get it. It's representative of what's inside the jacket, what the words are just dying to convey.
In all honesty, I had no idea what this book was about when I bought it. I just picked it up, liked the title and never even read the back of it. While the front cover reads 'this is everything fiction should be-wrenching, disturbing and emotive,' the inside is what really reveals more than I could have ever thought humanly possible. To state the absolute obvious if you've ever googled this book, or picked up a copy, it is not nice. In fact, I found it so horrific, so morally degrading, that I struggled to read it and actually get to the end.
Written in the 90's, this book got a really bitter reception, and with the subject matter, it's no surprise as to why. The story follows, and is narrated almost solely by a man, a convinced paedophile, who writes from the confines of his prison cell. In doing so, he exchanges letters with a young girl, manipulating and grooming her and all the while, tiny pieces, or in some places, large chunks of his criminal past are infiltrated into the reader's mind.
I can't even begin to fully describe how I feel about this book. I actually dropped it when my eyes finished glossing over the last few lines, in a mixture of shock, disgust and relief. I can't even believe I'd read something like this. It's so chilling, so inhumane, so utterly perverse, that actually, I kind of wish I'd never layed eyes on it. My lungs feel exhausted, my heart is in my throat, my eyes are streaming, but whether these are tears of confusion, sadness or blinding fear, I don't know. This is not, I must stress, a book for the faint hearted. More brutal as it goes on, I can't even count how many times my gag reflex kicked in when my eyes began to feast on the monstrosity in front of me. Shocked to the core, disgusted beyond belief, I feel kind of numb now.
It's full of manipulation, deceit and ruin; loss of innocence, brutality and mass disturbance. There's something about this book that gets under your skin. Grabs you by the throat and leaves you gasping for life. While I can sit and appreciate how skillfully it is written, I will never ever suggest anyone need/must read it. From it's vulgar, masochistic tones, to it's sheer, unadulterated courage, I can't even believe this was allowed to be published. Haunting from the first page to the very last, a book I will not forget in a hurry, no matter how hard I try. An eye-opener, a casualty you wish you'd never seen, a demon you'd never wish to discover. Read it or don't, that's not for me to say. I just know, personally, and I know most will agree, this may be a subject taken a bit too far. Maybe this novel should have been kept hidden in the dark, chilling depths of A.M Homes' mind, rather than a copy of it left discarded in disgust at my bedside.