Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Living Dead Girl-- Elizabeth Scott
Without a doubt, this is the most gut-wrenching, painful book I have read this year. Maybe ever... I had nightmares last night after I finished it... not because it was gory or gruesome in the way some YA horror can be, but because I know abuse like what is portrayed in Scott's novel exists in this world... which makes it much scarier than a ghost story.
Living Dead Girl is told by 15 year old "Alice". She was abducted when she was in elementary school on a field trip, and has been help captive by Ray, a man who abuses her in every way imaginable. Because he prefers her to look young, he literally starves her, makes her wear the same frilly nightgowns she wore when she was a small child, and goes through drastic measures to stave off her puberty. Ray murdered his last "Alice" when she was 15, and the current Alice, the protagonist of this story, considers herself a living dead girl: not only is she totally dead inside because of years and years of horrific torture, but she knows that any day now she will be murdered to make room for a new and younger "Alice".
As you can tell from the plot summary, this book addresses some serious issues (sexual abuse, kidnapping, pedophilia, etc). However, the most powerful parts of this novel come from Alice's descriptions of the way other people treat her. When she goes into the esthetician for her full body waxing, the esthetician can see all the bruises on her starved body. Does she reach out to help her? No. Alice talks about how the people in her apartment building just look the other way, and on the bus they would rather see right through her than help her.
It made me think about how many people exist in our society that are just waiting for one person to offer them help... just one person to help them navigate their way from hell back to earth again. Then, on the way to work, I heard a special on NPR about Oregon's statute on limitations on child molestation and got angry all over again...
This is a powerful, horrifying, extremely well written book. It is not for the faint of heart.