Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

A long time ago when I was young, I read a book called A Child Called IT by Dave Pelzer and it has haunted me ever since. It was about a horrifying child abuse case in California. I clearly remember crying about it, having nightmares and talking endlessly to my mother about it as well. I couldn't make sense of how much it saddened me. I still can't.
I only describe this to you now because this book, Living Dead Girl, has had this same affect on me. It has this intense, terrifying feel to it. I can still see Alice and hear her voice. I ponder about her devastating situation. Her story has affected me more than I think I realize, even now. I don't know that I can ever read this book again. Although, I may feel compelled to do so like I did while I read it recently.
I had an unpredictable parental experience while reading this book. My 5th grade daughter loves to read and she often looks on my shelf to see what I'm reading. It so happened that she decided to read Living Dead Girl without asking me. When I realized she was reading it, I felt it was too late to take it away. I felt she should have the closure in the ending if possible. I had her give it to me when she finished and invited her to talk to me but she didn't say too much at this point. Over the next few days, I think I managed to stay open so she could feel like she could talk to me. As soon as she finished, of course, I read this book very fast so that I could discuss it with her. As we discussed this book it surprised me, mostly, about what I learned from her vantage point. Naturally, she had a few questions and I think a lot went over her head. I remembered how my mom handled me when I read A Child Called IT and I tried to emmulate that by listening, keeping open to answer questions and keeping calm. I know this is a strong book with a massive message. I realize the controversy on whether or not it should be a book for teens. Through my experience with my daughter, it has taught me a lot and opened my eyes more than I think even my daughters' eyes. She knows more than I realize. Fifth grade is still so young and I wouldn't have told her to read this book. I don't really recommend it at all. I've worried about this situation a lot but overall I think it's okay, and I truly hope that she's okay, that she read it. I think that it is alright for teens/Young Adults if they want to read it but a parent, trusted friend or mentor would be very helpful so that they could discuss it with them or have any questions answered that they might need. It also lends to a good dicussion on the whole stranger danger topic. Seriously, it's super scary to think about how to handle this if it really happened. So hard to fathom. Nightmarish, really? Now I worry, have I talked about this enough with my daughter?
I thought it was deeply touching and hauntingly written, perhaps even overwhelmingly so. I couldn't put it down. If possible, it might have been even more compelling if Elizabeth Scott wrote this based on a true story but it saddens me deeply to say this could be real. I think Alice's story did need to be told and I think I'll never forget it either.

176 pages, Sept. 2008, My rating: 3 stars

— Quotes from this book:

...the thing is you can get used to anything you think you can't, you
want to die but you don't, you can't, you just are

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

-On the back cover:

This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.


Plainfield Public Library
Katy Reads Y.A.


L said...

Good for you. You took advantage of a great teaching moment with your daughter. Girls are so mature at such a younger age than boys.

Great review!

Amanda said...

I have to admit I'm kind of glad I was gone for this book club date because this book scares the crap out of me.

Julie said...

Thanks, Lula. I hope I took advantage of the moment. It's funny because when the teaching moments come I'm usually caught off guard and feel like I'm catching up with them for weeks.

The book is quite chilling, Amanda, so I don't blame you at all. Even though it is a very short book, it will haunt me. Thankfully, it wasn't as graphic as I was worried about and I liked her writing style.