143. The Death of Sweet Mister by Daniel Woodrell

The Death of Sweet Mister by Daniel Woodrell. Foreword by Dennis Lehane (US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Pages: 175 +Reader's Guide
Ages: 18+
Finished: May 18, 2012
First Published: 2001 (this edition, Apr. 24, 2012) 
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Genre: realistic fiction, literature, noir
Rating: 4/5

First sentence: "Red made me get out and paint the truck another color once we'd crossed the state line."

Publisher's Summary: "Shug Akins is a lonely, overweight thirteen-year-old boy. His mother, Glenda, is the one person who loves him--she calls him Sweet Mister and attempts to boost his confidence and give him hope for his future. Shuggie's purported father, Red, is a brutal man with a short fuse who mocks and despises the boy. Into this small-town Ozarks mix comes Jimmy Vin Pearce, with his shiny green T-bird and his smart city clothes. When he and Glenda begin a torrid affair, a series of violent events is inevitably set in motion. The outcome will break your heart."

Acquired: Received a review copy from Hachette Book Group Canada.

Reason for Reading: This may sound weird but, I enjoy reading well-written depressing books. 

I have never read this author before nor actually even heard of him, but he caught my eye when I saw that the publisher had reprinted all his works in a new line of trade paperbacks.  I had a hard time deciding which book to try first but this one seemed to fit my interests well and it was short so a good one to try a new author.  It is really hard to use words such as "I liked" or "I enjoyed" with such a brutal and sad story.  If you like happy endings or rays of hope, this is not the book for you as it is the complete opposite.  We see a poor family living well below the poverty line, the word family here is optional as the parents are each extremely dysfunctional though in completely different ways.  But they both have the same effect on the boy.  This is virtually his coming-of-age story.  The story is brutal in its harshness and honesty.  I don't want to tell the topics it deals with as that would giveaway a major spoiler to the plot, but let's just say the book becomes harder and harder to read as the plot and the characters become more and more broken. 

This was an emotional, tough read but well worth it.  Achingly well-written, the despair and cruelty that is so real in this story touched me deeply.  Personally, for me, I "enjoy" this type of story, and this one in particular because it brings home the reality, to me, of a life without Jesus.  Unimaginable emptiness. 

I've already been to the library and brought home another book by the author.  They only had two titles, including this one so it wasn't hard to decide which one!


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