Publication Date: October 24, 2012
In [easyazon-link asin=”148010034X” locale=”us”]My Sore Hush-a-Bye[/easyazon-link], Camille is confused when Uncle Bob says that she’ll be going to school. Since the age of eight, Camille has lived protected by Uncle Bob from society. When Camille makes a friend at school and that friend disappears, she knows that the friend is okay because Uncle Bob is protecting her in the room in the basement, as he did with Camille. Camille will soon discover that she doesn’t know Uncle Bob as well as she thought she did.
There are some truths not to be denied about [easyazon-link asin=”148010034X” locale=”us”]My Sore Hush-a-Bye[/easyazon-link] by Renata Barcelos. The first is that Barcelos is a talented writer. We are told by Camille about her life. We know from the start that Camille has been kidnapped from her home and is being isolated and sexually abused. She reminisces to us about the three times she tried to kill herself before realizing how lucky she was to have Uncle Bob and consequently, is now embarrassed about not having come to that realization sooner. The second truth not to be denied, is that this sort of work has its place in the literary world. Call it bringing society to a certain awareness of events happening to which we may not have tuned in. Camille tells us herself toward the end of her narrative, ”There are probably thousands of Camilles crying in basements, just here in Iowa. So many children left behind, left unspoken, left abandoned…” (Location 3052 Kindle edition).
The third truth about [easyazon-link asin=”148010034X” locale=”us”]My Sore Hush-a-Bye[/easyazon-link] by Renata Barcelos is that it is a brutal, horrible, crushing read. This is a book, that had I not agreed to review, I would not have finished. Child abuse, in general, is a hard topic. The story is told from the victim’s standpoint and is so believable that it’s hard not to feel sick as she talks about how she fears she’s getting too old for Uncle Bob and he’s looking to replace her. In Camille’s stream of consciousness we learn of her journey from a home with a mother, who is likely prostituting herself (Camille doesn’t know what’s going on, but describes random men coming and going and getting sweets for staying in her room) to Uncle Bob’s bringing her into a home where things happen that seem wrong and dirty, but are a vehicle to being loved and cherished. People love you, when you’re good and do what they want. It’s clear that she knows she’s too old for Uncle Bob, and as much as he tries, he simply can’t love her anymore; so how will he resolve the problem of having a child who is no longer of use to him? The reader worries deeply about Camille’s fate, especially when Uncle Bob hits her. Is this just a slippery slope to a greater violence?
From a child psychology standpoint, I can see this narration being a believable representation of a victim coming to identify with a love their abuser, and the challenges they face when they do have the freedom to leave. While I’m no expert of child psychology or social work relating to the victims of isolation and sexual abuse, I can see this novel being used in a social work course of study. The emotion and tragic nature of the text takes talent but I will not be reading this book again. [easyazon-link asin=”148010034X” locale=”us”]My Sore Hush-a-Bye[/easyazon-link] is valuable, but its written so well that my heart has broken.
Well written, emotional, gut wrenching, heart rending—this is what good literature is made of and Renata Barcelos has those qualities down. I hated this book but cannot deny the brilliance of the author.