July 13, 2016

The Wacky Man - Lyn G. Farrell

Legend Press, May 2, 2016.

Three Stars

Amanda was severely abused as a child, and now as a teenager she has locked herself in her bedroom and refuses to come out. Her “shrink” asked her what she remembers about being young, and the horrific memories came flooding back, crippling her emotionally. Although her mother feeds her and tries to get her to leave the bedroom, her love has no effect on Amanda – just as when she was young, and her mother was unable to protect her from her father’s rage.

The “Wacky Man” is Amanda’s father, although it is also the name the children have for the truancy officer because “wacking it” is apparently slang for skipping school. Amanda jokes that “dad was whacking me for wacking it,” (Loc. 104) but his abuse goes beyond that. Amanda’s brothers have escaped, but they left her behind and she feels abandoned. She hopes for a way out too, beyond her violent past – but she is stuck, both in her bedroom and inside her own head.

As a new chapter begins, Amanda asks the shrink (and by default, us, her readers), “Back for some more, eh?” It perfectly describes the process of reading this novel – just scene after scene of horror and abuse. It almost becomes gratuitous because there is no real plot, and I found it hard to keep picking the book up, knowing it would be more of the same. There was no redemption for Amanda, making this a very difficult read.

The author studied psychology and works in education, making me curious about whether the character of Amanda was inspired by someone in particular. The novel doesn’t end on a happy note, which made me wonder what the author’s intentions were in writing it – is it just to show the extent of abuse? Or the impact of all our actions on the children in our lives? There are moments of insight into a child’s emotional world, possibly meant to create empathy for the damaged youth that fall through the cracks of our social systems. Amanda shows us how they become that way, through her feelings about herself: “Things like me, deformed, forgotten things, we don’t have a future. We just have a day when we no longer wake up.” (Loc. 116) Hopefully Amanda’s story can prevent more children from feeling this way.

I received this novel from Legend Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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