By Gordon Reece
From the book jacket:
Shelley and her mother have been menaced long enough. Fleeing their fears and anxieties, they retreat to Honeysuckle Cottage deep in the countryside, which they hope will put a halt to years of suffering at the hands of others. Shelly has endured merciless bullying from the girls who used to be her best friends, and Elizabeth’s domineering husband of eighteen years has abandoned them for a younger woman. For Shelly and Elizabeth are “mice” – timid, nervous and obliging.
Just my opinion:
What an absolutely amazing book! This is definitely at the top of my list for the best novels of 2012.
This is the story of Shelley, a teen who has been severely brutalized, both mentally and physically, by the same girls she grew up with and who were once her very best friends. They suddenly decided she was an easy target and hurt her very deeply, finally putting her in the hospital with their abuse. Her mother Elizabeth put up with years of mental anguish at the hands of her controlling husband, only to have him leave her for a much younger woman. When Shelley decides she would rather remain living with her mother, the man turned his back on both of them, choosing, instead, to push them out of his life entirely.
Rather than remain in the house where they have lived their lives as “mice,” they move to a secluded cottage in the countryside. With no traffic and no neighbors for miles around them, they finally feel as if they can start their lives over and no one can bother them.
That all changes when they become victims of a break-in by a maniacal young man who is drunk and strung out on drugs. The events that transpire will change their lives forever.
I was so enthralled by this novel and just couldn’t stand to put it down. The pace is quick and the sentences are so well-written, I found myself staying up late to finish it. Gordon Reece has a way of allowing readers to put themselves right in the pages alongside the characters. You can see clearly exactly what’s going on and you want to reach out and take part in the story.
A super new book and one I hope you’ll try.
Some favorite passages from the book:
Writers always seemed to know the names of flowers and trees; it helped to make them sound more authoritative, more Godlike.
Staring up at the sky, I liked to imagine that I lived in a simpler, more innocent time – ideally a time before there were any human beings at all, when the earth was one vast green paradise and cruelty, hurting for the pleasure of hurting, was completely unknown.
It seemed more natural to me to say nothing, to suffer in silence, to stay very still and hope not to be seen, to scurry along the skirting board searching for a safe place to hide.
I understand that the greater the trauma the less adequate words become until, I imagine, when we face the greatest test of all, only silence seems appropriate.
I was surprised to see that it was Lady Macbeth who had engineered King Duncan’s murder and not Macbeth as I’d thought, and I found myself wondering, in the light of what my ‘best friends’ had done to me, whether women were the gentler sex after all. Was it possible that women were actually crueller than men?
Real life was the complete opposite of order and beauty; it was chaos and suffering, cruelty and horror.
I wondered idly is Shakespeare had ever killed anyone – how else could he have known so exactly what the aftermath was like?
It was strange to watch Tom chasing Jerry round and round the kitchen, bringing the frying pan down on his head and flattening Jerry like a pancake while the music raced jovially along and the comic sound effect – boing! – rang out again and again. Violence in bright colour. Violence without blood. Violence without death. It wasn’t like that in real life.
No one ever gets away with anything in the movies because they can’t have an audience thinking that crime pays. But this isn’t a movie – this is real life. And people get away with things all the time in real life.
The loss of just one person, one individual, no matter how worthless their existence had been, was meant to matter.
For the first time in my life I began to think that perhaps the loss of an individual wasn’t of very much significance after all. Perhaps it was a meaningless as the casual crushing of a fly against a windowpane. Perhaps the fabric of the universe didn’t change one iota.
No matter where we are or what we’re doing, death and horror are always near us. The challenge is to get on with our lives and be happy even though we can always wee them out of the corner of our eye, blurred, but still recognizable in the background.
Life was brutal. Life was savage. Life was a war. I understand that now. I accepted that now. And I said: Bring it on. I wasn’t going to be anyone’s victim. Ever again.