Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.
Most days I really don’t give much thought to the passage of time and my (advancing) age. But then something happens like my niece’s four-year-old offering decorating tips or my knees sounding like the Snap, Crackle, & Pop Revue first thing in the morning to bring home the fact I’ve been standing on this spinning rock for more than a minute.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t necessarily a sad epiphany. I’m grateful to draw relatively healthy breaths each day. And I’m even more appreciative of the fact that some really amazing books are part of my journey. One of them, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, is Elizabeth Scott’s LIVING DEAD GIRL.
From a scale of Damn I Wish I Wrote This to I’ll Never Be The Same Again, how good is LIVING DEAD GIRL?
Content warning for pedophilia, abuse, kidnapping
Through sparse and skillful prose (I mean, not a single word is wasted), Scott takes readers through an unimaginable and forsaken hellscape of an existence with the utmost sensitivity and care. “Alice” is a ghost of a girl, known as Kyla when Ray snatched the ten-year-old away from her family with unsettling ease. She’s done everything she can to survive while the adults around her can’t detect the damage Ray’s done and the danger she’s in. Alice lives knowing that freedom is tantalizingly within reach, if only someone would see, and that ultimately she may have to save herself.
Ray thinks he’s special. He cares for his “Alice” and isn’t like those “perverts” who harm children. He’s done everything to keep Alice his little girl forever, but despite his efforts, including feeding her as little as possible, she’s getting older. He’ll need another girl soon and he’ll do whatever it takes, use whoever it takes, to make that happen.
When I say this book takes you through it! It’s easily one of the most unflinching and unsettling stories I’ve ever read. LIVING DEAD GIRL is that steep, steady climb at the beginning of a huge, rickety, wooden roller coaster and that first, regrettable, stomach-churning drop…except it never ends.
You’re doomed. And so is Alice.
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