This has to be one of the hardest 5 star reviews I will have to write. It’s hard to say you enjoyed a book when the subject content is a hard one to digest. As a parent, it was even harder to read- this book would be every parent’s nightmare. So why give it a 5 star?
Lucinda Berry is a new author for me- and it seems that she has a total of 4 books published, including “Appetite for Innocence”. Each book looks like it has garnered at least 3 stars or more- which definitely piques my interest to read more of her books.
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
“Appetite for Innocence” starts out with 2 (sometimes 3) main characters, constantly switching perspectives. We start with Sarah, a girl who was taken 4 years ago, but has developed Stockholm Syndrome with her kidnapper. Her role? To make the girls as comfortable as possible; considering the circumstances. Sarah takes her role begrudgingly in hopes that if she works hard enough, “John” will reward her and allow her to “live” upstairs with him instead of in the basement.
Sarah is proud to know all of “John’s” cues- when he’s ready to acquire a new girl, when he’s ready to bring her upstairs, and when he’s lost all interest. Unfortunately for Sarah, she’s involved in every step- helping to pick out the girls, tending to them while they’re in the basement, cooking, and if necessary she’ll get rid of the girls.
Paige has been living in the basement for approximately 5 months. She’s conditioned herself to separate her mind from her body, which she advises Ella (our other main character) to do as well.
We find Ella duct taped and zip tied, and naturally freaking out. Sarah and Paige try to calm her down, and coax her not to scream so they can remove the duct tape. Predictably so, Ella screams for help when the duct tape is removed.
These girls all have a common thread. They have religious backgrounds, their father’s are out of the picture, and they are all virgins. “John” is only interested in taking virgins. He wants to be a father figure to them, to take care of them. His intentions are not well received. Especially when he decides he wants to start a family.
He’s broken these girls. Snatched them up from their lives. Brainwashed them, and turned them into a shell. Will there ever be justice?
I’ve got to be honest . . . when I first started reading this book, I was annoyed that the author continually switched perspectives. I was at first confused, and found it hard to concentrate on the story line. Continuing on though, the pace started to pick up, as well as the back story. . .and front story, and the stories in between. As I feel this blog post is disorganized, and chaotic, that is the best way for me to describe “Appetite for Innocence”.
Although I didn’t care for the subject matter, let’s face it, one can like this subject as much as “The Lovely Bones”; I was wrecked for weeks after that book. This particular book is what parent’s nightmares are made out of. It’s letting your kids have a routine, knowing that routine, and them not return. When is parental guidance too much? And when should you show leniency? After reading this book, I certainly want to hug my kiddos a bit tighter at night.
So why on earth would I give this book a 5 star? Just because a reader doesn’t care for the subject matter should not guarantee a lower rating. Lucinda Berry proves she’s a master at dialogue and detail. Although the reader cringes (through half the book) she paints a picture so vivid you feel the pain. You can feel the point these girls just give up.
Berry has fantastic character development. I found each character, from the girls, the parents, even John, to have layer upon layer of unraveling; it was truly brilliant. Being able to compartmentalize and keep separate the story and the set up is key.
As for reading another Lucinda Berry book- I most definitely would. I think she’s a brilliant writer. Granted I do not think I could stomach a work like this back to back, but that’s no reason for me to completely shy away from the author.
I was contacted through my blog to give an honest review in exchange for an advanced copy of the book. That being said, it has not altered my opinion whatsoever.