The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I've never read Lidia Yuknavitch before but I'd heard great things so I was eager to read this novel once I heard about it. It's very dark, very raw. It's definitely not for everyone. The thing that struck me most was what a wonderful writer that Yuknavitch is ... wow, some of the passages in this book just BLEW ME AWAY. She can put words together in the amazing way.
This book is odd and discomforting. No one has a name in this novel - they are referred to by what they do - The Writer, The Photographer, etc. I love how the author pulls together each of these people into a story. They are woven so effortlessly. The writing style is interesting - almost unemotional (despite the tragedy and pain being described) and bare. The narrative shifts constantly from person to person but stays cohesive. It's pretty amazing to watch the narrative grow and move. It almost feels like poetry in some way. It's very hard to describe (for me) but extremely effective.
There are a number of graphic scenes of consensual and non-consensual sex. If that makes you uncomfortable, this is not the book for you. There is quite a bit of violence - sexual and non-sexual. Its very descriptive and disturbing. I felt unsettled the entire time I read this novel. By the end, I felt almost exhausted by the pain and suffering woven throughout the novel. I had a very visceral reaction to this novel. It's hard to say that I enjoyed it ... given its disturbing nature. But, it certainly affected me emotionally and made me think about pain, redemption and healing in new ways.
Three words to describe this novel are disturbing, haunting and brutal. It's definitely not for everyone but if you think you can get past the violence, I think it's worth the read. It's certainly a powerful book.