Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book review: These Gentle Wounds by Helene Dunbar

Sometimes I wish I’d lost a leg or something. Everyone can understand that. They never get it when what’s been broken is inside your head.

Five years after an unspeakable tragedy that changed him forever, Gordie Allen has made a new home with his half-brother Kevin. Their arrangement works since Kevin is the only person who can protect Gordie at school and keep him focused on getting his life back on track.

But just when it seems like things are becoming normal, Gordie’s biological father comes back into the picture, demanding a place in his life. Now there’s nothing to stop Gordie from falling into a tailspin that could cost him everything—including his relationship with Sarah, the first girl he’s trusted with the truth. With his world spinning out of control, the only one who can help Gordie is himself . . . if he can find the strength to confront the past and take back his future.


NOTE: I received the eARC via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Judging by the cover, I didn't think this book would be something so spectacular and full of meaning and emotions. I guess that's one more reminder that covers aren't to be trusted.
Anyway, I do not regret reading These Gentle Wounds one single bit. What I do regret is reviewing it so late, but life is busy. I just want to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the narrative and the story. There was nothing average or cliche about it.

Writing style:
These Gentle Wounds was a story of intense emotions - fear, passion, doubt, love - all in extreme quantities. Written in 1st person POV it had a way to draw the reader in and to keep them there, fully emersed in the story of Gordie, his past, his present and the hope for his future.

Story line:
Gordie has suffered through a horrible childhood. Now, in his teen years, he's haunted by the past and by a man who wants to claim his future. With the help of his half-brother, Kevin, and a stubborn girl (Sarah), Gordie has to figure out how to keep his mind in the present and not lose his sanity and everything he's fought for.

Themes:
-Parental abuse
-Psychological trauma and how it influences child mind
-Having hope for a love and a future against all odds
-The strength of sibling love
-The faults in the child protection system

Characters:
Gordie's character isn't easy to talk about. He was such a nice boy, but so traumatized by the past (his Mom's actions and the Night Before) that he hardly had any hopes for a normal future. It is largely thanks to his half-brother Kevin that Gordie's even alive. Yet, it isn't until Sarah entered his life that Gordie realized mere existence was not what he wanted. He wanted to live to the fullest, to feel the spark of life that Sarah kindled and turned into a blazing fire inside his soul.
 
Kevin always seemed to be the stronger brother. The pillar of support that held Gordie together. The person Gordie always went to for help, for peace. But it was completely clear to me that the same was true the other way around. The two boys had each other's backs at all times, because that's what real family does. There was fear in Kevin too, he just managed to hide it better - the brokenness, the hopelessness - and to turn it into anger instead.

Sarah was the light at the end of the tunnel of Gordie's dark thoughts. Like a pure, perfect vision of hope, she clung to him and brought him relief from the constant fear. With her love of photography and all things new, she was a fresh, unencountered beginning for Gordie's abused heart.

Jim was Kevin's dad. He was the only resemblance of a father Gordie ever knew. He wasn't exactly kind, per se, but that's only because when things went down, he hadn't been prepared to be taking care of two emotionally (and not only) scarred boys.

Gordie's father was a monster in every sense of the word. He was psychotic, selfish and violent and I hated his guts. Not to mention that social services should've checked on him before giving him any rights to even see Gordie, let alone spend time with him.

In conclusion:
These Gentle Wounds isn't a light, easy read. It's full of emotion, pain and struggle to find sanity and normalsy.

My rating is: