Book Review - Believe Like A Child

Paige Dearth's Believe Like A Child is a touching novel about a young girl Alessa, who goes through years of molestation by her uncle, right under the family roof and under the noses of her family members. For years she went through abuse, and finally, after a devastating event that occurs, she finds the courage to run away from home, hoping for a life that could be better than the one she had lived for the last sixteen years. Drugs, addiction, abuse, exploitation, Alessa sees and experiences them all. From being homeless and destitute, to facing prostitution, she goes through life tough as nails and as a strong survivor. She meets three individuals who change her life in their own different ways, all in different times, and life for her seems to start changing for the better. Or so we're hoping as we read on.

A grueling novel, this one; it is that intense. It's so painful you would want to drop the book and never pick it up, but you find your mind drawn to it, wanting to know what, why, how, and what next. You find yourself feeling all kinds of emotions; Alessa's pain, her frustrations, her loneliness. You feel angry for her, and you feel angry (even disgusted atimes) at her. You feel her happiness, her sorrow, her fears and her doubts. You feel it all. 
Believe Like A Child is heartbreaking, eye-opening to what really happens to molested kids, to homeless men, women and children. It moves you to the core, opens your eyes to things you never would have thought, situations you never would have imagined. It offers a fresh perspective to what it is like to live on the streets, with nowhere to go, not knowing where your next meal is going to come from, or where you'll lay your head for the night. It's painful. It's appalling. It's breath-taking literature. 

Reader's discretion is strongly advised when reading BLAC. The language used is definitely strong and rough, and will be offensive for some. It might take you longer than usual to finish it up; you might find yourself taking breaks in between reads, giving yourself time to digest the mount of intense information you've just read. Or, you might finish the book very quickly and within a very short time; it all depends on you as the reader and how much intensity you can take all at once. 

I thought the author laid it out a little too raw. I would've preferred if the beginning had started a little gentler, more subtle. Perhaps Dearth was trying to get the reader to feel the same intense shock Alessa felt when her uncle Danny started sexually violating her, with no warning, and her innocence gone in an instant. Nevertheless, readers want to be captivated, strung along...they want to feel eager enough to read on. Not every reader wants to be hit with sexually assaulting images in their minds right on the first page, every move described in graphic detail. It is indeed a given, sad fact that child molestation happens to children constantly; it is horribly sick and horribly sad. However, not everyone wants his/her mind conjuring up images of a sleazy uncle doing unspeakable, despicable things to his seven-year-old niece, and certainly not on the first few pages. The last thing an author wants to do is lose his/her audience at the start of the novel before they get to see the true brilliance in the author’s works. 

With that said, BLAC is indeed a brilliant, exceptional read by an equally exceptional author, who went through very similar circumstances with the novel's main character, Alessa. I do indeed feel privileged to have had the opportunity to read this novel. I have learned quite a few life lessons, and I hope  readers will learn a few from it as well.
GENRE: General fiction
MATERIAL CONNECTION: Given to me by author