I was pretty recently tagged in a friend’s Facebook post requesting that I list 10 books that have stayed with me in some way. I decided to come out of Facebook hiding (I mostly just lurk, reading my news feed … Occasionally I’ll comment on or like a status or picture) to respond since I (obviously) love to share great books with others.
The novel I’ll be reviewing today made that list. Although it’s an easy read, it stirred up a lot of emotion as I got further and further into the book. The subject matter is dark but relevant (the plot centers around a school shooting). Although many might argue that this topic has been played out, the author introduced an interesting twist early on and built upon that twist throughout the novel to create a fascinating piece of literature.
Image courtesy of http://www.bookcoverarchive.com.
A Thousand Cuts by Simon Lelic
The chapters alternate between witness statements and a more typical narrative as Detective Inspector Lucia May tries to uncover some meaning behind the seemingly senseless tragedy of a local school shooting. The book is set in London, but it could just as easily have been set in the U.S. (or anywhere else for that matter).
Lelic tells his readers who the gunman is in the second chapter … There’s no mystery there. What kept me reading was the way he wove the different points of view together to give an incredibly chilling look at the cruelties both children and adults can be capable of. I found it both interesting and refreshing that the gunman wasn’t one of the students, though … It was actually a young teacher who was bullied as much (or more, in some cases) as some of the kids.
A Thousand Cuts isn’t disturbing in the way that some books are … There aren’t a lot of really graphic descriptions of violence or anything like that. It was, however, disturbing to think that the bullying, the lack of action from those in positions of power, and the terrible consequences are all too real. It actually made me nervous about the future, when I have children to send to school. I mean, a lot of the time kids won’t tell their parents what’s going on with them, especially if they’re being harassed … So the parents may have no idea until it’s too late. That’s pretty fucking scary to me.
Overall, this was a wonderful novel. The only issue I had with it was the fact that some parts were a little difficult for me to understand since I’m not overly familiar with British slang (where’s my pretend celebrity boyfriend Alex Turner when I need him?). Obviously that has nothing to do with the story or author, though, so I wouldn’t even consider it a “problem.” Impressively enough, this is Simon Lelic’s debut novel. I definitely want to check out some of his other work to see how it measures up.
I would recommend A Thousand Cuts to others, but I’d warn them that it’s pretty bleak. There were parts that made me incredibly angry and parts that just made me really sad. It’s definitely not for everyone. But, if you’re like me and like fucked up entertainment (I’d say that’s the best way I can describe a lot of things I enjoy), this is an excellent read.
I give A Thousand Cuts FIVE STARS. It was one of the best books I read in 2012.