I’ve been reading about damaged people a lot lately. After I finished Right Behind You I picked up Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess, and then it was This is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis, and finally I read Feels Like Home by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo. Of the three I enjoyed Such a Pretty Girl the most.

Meredith has had 3 years of the promised 9 years of safety when her father is released from jail. Dear old dad is an equal opportunist pedophile. More horrifying is a mother who absolutely refuses to acknowledge the truth or protect Meredith. Really horrible evil woman – and honestly no more than a child herself. It is bad enough that Meredith has been living in a town that knows her father as a pedophile, surrounded by his other victims but her mother doesn’t acknowledge Meredith as a victim. And Dad is bad, he is an utter creep. But now he is home, and Meredith knows it is only a matter of time. Meredith may be such a pretty girl, but she is damaged, and you feel it to the core. Still, turns out she is a survivor and that means something.

Speaking of damaged Logan, of This is What I Did, gives Meredith a run for her money. He is bullied, alone, and absolutely unable to share/talk about why. Unlike Meredith whose rage is occasionally turned on someone else, Logan’s is all internalized. He hates himself, is consumed with guilt for what he did. The rumors he is forced to live with, that he refuses to answer, all contribute to his self-hatred. There are some interesting formatting choices in this novel – sort of Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. In fact this book reminded me of that one, something about my inability to connect with the narrator, the visual icons separating sections, the tone. Yet it is a very different book.

And to round out the damage in Feels Like Home there is Mickey who has a whole set of abandonment issues that she fights back against. Her mother left, after an accident her brother disappeared, and when her father dies it all just sort of comes to a head. Her brother has returned, but she knows he will bail on her again because “Nothing gold can stay” and running away is what he does best. But even Ponyboy has to grow up, and that often doesn’t mean what we think it means. The Outsiders is a common thread in this book, and frankly it helps to have read that story, which I have mixed feelings about. Is The Outsiders still relevant? Its taken a while to post because I just haven’t been sure about this book. Can’t decide how I feel, so I am just going to say that I am Charlie Brown on this one – wishy-washy.