Big Mouth Blues (2017) by Danalynn Donovan is an emotionally gripping read and heartwrenching from beginning to end.
In the book we meet protagonist 14 (and a half) year old Kacey Dalton who is facing mental and physical abuse from her alcoholic father. She is trying to protect her mother and sisters from this man who has always seemed to especially hate her. In the book we get to know Kacey very well and her personality jumps off the page. She is strong, she is loving, she is young and unsure how to handle any of this but she has this inner strength and you know she is going to pull through. She also has a witty element to her personality which allows for lighter moments in a very heavy read. Throughout the book, we see Kacey being gaslighted by her father and to an extent by her mother too at certain times due her fear that Kacey’s strong personality will cause her father to become even more abusive. In Kacey there is a character who knows the situation and what her father is doing is seriously very wrong but being told that her strength of character is a flaw, makes things somehow her fault and that it makes her somewhat uncompassionate. All a load of rubbish of course but it’s great to see that she is strong enough to overcome it and it made me think of how sad it is that a lot of people in situations like this never find that belief and strength to overcome the devastatingly cruel and unfair situations they find themselves in.
Kacey finds some solace and normality when she visits and hangs out at her best friend Maxine’s house where Maxine has the dream family she has always wished she could belong to. She also is in love with Maxine’s older brother Wade.
This book is a page-turner. You just need to read on and find out whether Kacey is going to be alright and if there is a happy ending in sight for her, her mother and her two little sisters. It is an extremely powerful read about a young girl trying to keep her family together in the face of abuse and tremendous mental strain being put on her. This is certainly a very brave write by the author especially for a debut book. I like the way we get to see Kacey’s life in various different aspects. While the main theme of the book is the abuse she suffers, we also get to know about other parts of her life and get a glimpse of what she should be able to concentrate on without having to go through this fear inside her own home.
It is definitely a heavy and sad read and it is also an incredible read. Donovan tells Kacey’s story with honesty, sensitivity and paints a very human, ordinary young girl with so much potential if she can get through this and not end up like her father through conditioning or resentment.
Excellent. A must-read.
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