I have to say I was drawn into this novel from the very beginning-drawn into the characters, their lives, this story.
The story is told from the point of view of Skunk, an eleven year old girl who is in a coma. The whole book leads up to the point where we finally learn how she came to be in this coma.
Skunk leads a fairly normal life for a little girl. Her father adores her, maybe more so because her mother left the family and doesn't seem to be bothered with her children at all. She and her brother Jed have the normal sibling relationship-getting along and fighting. They also have a live in helper named Cerys who is really a lot more than that. And being the normal eleven year old-Skunk is in love with her teacher, Mr. Jeffries. Things would probably be great if Skunk didn't have the completely crazy Oswald family as neighbors. This is a family of five girls and their father. They are totally out of control and their actions and bad language continue to prove this to us throughout the book.
Without giving away too much of the novel, Skunk's neighbor Rick Buckley ends up being picked on by the Oswald girls, this escalates to the Oswald's talking about him to anyone who will listen and accusing him of something awful. He ends up being dragged off to jail although later being released and cleared. However it is already too late to save him from the humiliation he feels-he is already Broken. After this his life takes a continual downward spiral that eventually culminates in a tragedy that will leave Skunk in a coma herself and barely alive.
This novel shows us what can result from false accusations and reckless acts. It shows us how fragile the human mind can be. It also shows us how a dysfunctional family can not only ruin their own lives but the lives of those around them in ways they never could have imagined.
While parts of the book leave you with a heavy heart, other parts leave you feeling hopeful. There are four words towards the end of the novel that leave you with that hope. They are: Life, Love, Aspirations, Dreams. These are the words that Skunk holds onto and very likely we all should.
I think this was a really good novel. I enjoyed it a great deal, in fact I had trouble putting it down at all and finished it quickly. I was sad to see it end because I wanted to know more about these characters that I had grown to love like Skunk and her family and even the Oswald girls-they were a product of their upbringing. I would definitely recommend this novel.