Lately, without consciously planning to, I’ve been extending my literary horizons by reading a bit of gritty fiction that I’m glad is fiction, and then there’s been the non-fiction that I almost wish was fiction.
Aptly titled, Dark Placesopens a new window is an unfortunately contemporary storyline of family massacre. Not my normal cup of chai, but I was at the time without a fiction novel on the go and, having read Gone Girl also by Gillian Flynn, I waded in.
“Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in ‘The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.’ As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived – and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer.”
Libby is the unsurprisingly disturbed narrator, now 32 and very brittle. She receives an offer of money to talk to the Kill Club, a group of people who believe Ben is innocent. As she is running out of trust money, she goes along with the request. Caught up in the need of the Kill Club to find out who “dunnit”, she finds more than she bargained for and learns the answers to a lot of questions. The writing is great, just the right amount of tension; one could believe this small community truly existed.
That should have been enough, but, no, what should fall into my hands but When I Fell from the Skyopens a new window. 17 year old Juliane Koepcke landed in the Peruvian jungle still strapped into her seat after the plane that she and her Mother were travelling in disintegrated in a severe storm.
An amazing young woman with a heck of story, she tells her incredible story of survival and her life before and since. This is definitely non-fiction, however you couldn’t be blamed for wishing it was fiction. It’s not overly well edited, but the story overcomes this. Do you put yourself in the position of these plucky people and wonder how you would have fared? Would you have been scared witless or resourceful? Lived or died? I don’t know if I would have made it out alive.
Next on my accidental list was more gritty fiction, again with contemporary reality parallels throughout the world.
In Room by Emma Donoghue, the story of kidnap and abuse is narrated by the nearly 5-year-old son of his ‘Ma’, the young woman snatched 7 years before. The further in I read, the less I could put it down. It’s moving but it’s not depressing. To say more would be to give away too much. It’s a must read, with tissues nearby.
Have you found a book that you would normally put back on the shelf but, once started, you have ended up reading to the end? And been really glad you did? These three books were definitely some of those for me.