Friday, 13 May 2016

The Wacky man - Lyn G Farrell - Brutally honest


I was invited to take part in the blog tour for this book and knew I wouldn’t be able to finish reading my copy in time for the tour. This is always a difficult scenario as I make a point of only featuring books I’ve enjoyed on my blog and what if it turned out to be a Dud after publishing an article by the author especially written just for me?

Phew – it’s NOT a Dud it’s a mind blower!

The story is narrated by Amanda, just a teenager, she looks back at her life in a series of flashbacks and memories, emerging from her damaged and fractured mind. No sweet coming of age story this.

Her life was dominated by her loathsome and violent father, he bullied and mistreated Amanda’s Mum and twin brothers mercilessly, but saved his really psychotic nastiness for his only daughter whom he despised and loathed, ensuring she grows up despising and loathing herself.

This story is brutal and shocking, it’s grim and dark and to be honest hardly any light seeps in to the book never mind between the drawn curtains of the bedroom Amanda has concealed herself within, too damaged and confused to face a world that can inflict such pain on a youngster. It’s far removed from your usual misery memoirs, though. It’s not angling for sympathy and full of heart wobbling anguished pleas. It’s literary and caustic and very thought provoking.

The story tells at first how her Mother met her Father, we are taken to Ireland to visit his completely loathsome family of bog-Irish who really are gutter trash with only one or two members who are a little kinder, so it’s hardly surprising he turns out not to be the dashing knight in armour Ma hopes for. The fact that Amanda can write sensitively about her family background is the only glimmer of hope I had that she retains some empathy for them.

We then go on to experience her life in England, her early school years and watch things spiral out of control for Amanda. The more she is bullied by her sicko Dad telling her she is worthless, ugly and useless, the less likeable she becomes to those around her who see not a child in need of help but a tearaway refusing to conform and she becomes as much of an enemy to herself as The Wacky man is to her.

That the tale is told from deep within the fractured psyche of a mentally and physically abused child is apparent from the way she skitters about from one thought to another. The ending left me with my heart in my mouth and a lump in my throat.

But … what I found most UTTERLY horrifying and terrifying is the fact that I had read in advance, the article by this author, freely admitting that although this is a work of fiction, her debut novel is based on her own tough, brutal and horrifying experiences!

When I read a novel like this the only saving grace is that I can tell myself, “It’s not real, it’s not happening to a real person, this is all made up” but all the way through this I worded how much of it was based on the authors real experiences. I think I probably don’t really want to know. If even 10% of the events in the book have happened in the author’s own past then I applaud her for having the perspicacity to turn it around and create a novel about it, thumbing her nose at her own Wacky man and triumphing.

To Amanda (and Lyn) I just want to send the HUGE hug which the child deserved and never got.

My thanks go to the author for providing me with a copy of her book to review impartially and frankly, for writing an article for my own humble little blog and I wish her every success with this unusual and haunting book.

The Blurb:

My new shrink asks me, ‘What things do you remember about being very young?’
It’s like looking into a murky river, I say. Memories flash near the surface like fish coming up for flies. The past peeps out, startles me, and then is gone . . .  

Amanda secludes herself in her bedroom, no longer willing to face the outside world. Gradually, she pieces together the story of her life: her brothers have had to abandon her, her mother scarcely talks to her, and the Wacky Man could return any day to burn the house down. Just like he promised. As her family disintegrates, Amanda hopes for a better future, a way out from the violence and fear that has consumed her childhood. But can she cling to her sanity, before insanity itself is her only means of escape?

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