You can’t help feeling a bit battered and bruised on completing this book; not sure if I was reading it or being assaulted by it! Jack Jordan certainly throws everything into his second novel, My Girl, and it definitely packs a punch or two.
You are thrown into the deeply unpleasant world of Paige, who is dependent on pills and alcohol to stagger her way through the days following the suicide of her husband, who had failed to recover from the disappearance and death of their daughter a decade before. Paige is a mess and can see no way out, despite her promises to straighten herself out and the support of her family and in-laws.
What follows is a study of what happens when you take someone when they are at their lowest and start throwing even more bad stuff at them! And boy does it get bad for Paige; if you made a shortlist of the worst things that could possibly happen to you, then you’ll have a pretty good idea of where the story is heading.
I’m unsure if the writer’s intention was for his writing style in this book to reflect Paige’s life, but if so then he has succeeded admirably; the reader lurches their way through the book, never quite able to get to grips with one aspect of the story before a new horror is hammering on your sensibilities. This is an interesting stylistic approach but it hasn’t quite been pulled off – hence my uncertainty.
Perhaps for this approach to work, the story can only be told from one point of view; or if the POV switches then the style should change too, allowing some change of pace and intensity. Instead the story continues to be written in a relentless, frantic pace throughout with little opportunity for its audience to establish a connection with the main character beyond the kind of empathy you feel when reading a newspaper account of a human tragedy.
Overall this is an unsettling tale which brings to mind Thomas Hobbes’ notion that when society fails ‘life (is) solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’ – and the book certainly covers most of those, but it also seems rather hasty; more attention to detail and a greater emphasis on suspense and tension would elevate it considerably.
This has been reviewed as part of Jack Jordan’s current blog tour. Check out the other articles in the tour posters (click to enlarge).