Sunday, October 12, 2008

White Knuckle, by Daniel J. Gatti 

This book reads like a fairy tale. I don't mean that it's all happy-go-lucky. This book has some really harsh shit. I mean it's made of archetypes and monologues that speak as much to the reader as to another character. I mean the plot is smooth, one step after another, you can see the horror coming, you can see the grace coming, and you can see the horror again. The writing is excellent, and the pacing, aside from a brief lull about a third in, is perfect. I read it in a day. It's not a thriller or a mystery or a legal drama. It's something else. And it is perfect in what it is.

After a dramatic court room scene that sets the personality for one of the characters, we cut to a messy scene of a family separating, on the brink of divorce, as the father (the lawyer in the first scene) leaves with his mistress. He promises his son that despite leaving his mother, he will always be there for his son. The book goes right into a graphic depiction of the brutal rape of a nine-year-old boy. The desperate boy reaches out to find his father - who has just died in a car crash. His promise is broken at the time his son needs him most. And with everyone coping with a death in the family, no one notices that the boy is twice-traumatized. He never breathes a word. His pain turns to hate and a feeling of betrayal. But not until he's in college does he have to face these demons, though he runs as far as he can.

"Nothing Broken, Nothing Missing," is the book's message. Reclaim yourself. You're only as sick as your secrets. The 12-step messages are nicely hidden, only someone with knowledge of 12-step programs would even notice them. References to God are minimal, and I left with a feeling that one could heal without God, as long as one could find honesty in the self.

Again, this book is graphic. The drug use is graphic. The violence is graphic, the sex is graphic, and the violent sex is graphic. But I'm glad I read it. I will be selective about who I recommend it too specifically. But I'm glad I read it.

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