Once upon a time I was a little girl who disappeared.Review - Oh boy - this was a tough read but an important one nevertheless. Alice's existence is one depicted by sparse sentences, a distanced perspective and enough vagaries for your mind to fill with horrors. It's a harrowing tale that is unfortunately a reality for some very unfortunate people.
Once upon a time my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time I didn't know how lucky I was.
When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends -- her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.
This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.
Ray's actions against Alice are horrific to say the least and are definitely unpalatable. Its the presence of the abuse - sexual, psychological and physical - that make this particularly challenging and will not be to some reader's taste. Despite the subject matter, there is no doubt that this has been sensitively handled and well written (as its appearance on many organisation's lists can attest).
Having been in Ray's possession for five years and knowing his interest in her is dimming, Alice in stuck in a deathly situation. One, where the worst result isn't that unwelcoming to her. Scott has deftly portrayed the reasons why Alice hasn't escaped Ray. Her prison is more than the physical, it's the threats and the fear also. Alice's situation has fractured her being and her psyche in ways that we cannot even comprehend, yet the author (in a removed narrative) has made this understandable.
Of particular interest to me was the use of Alice in Wonderland motif used throughout as a manifestation of Ray's mental illness. It's not something I really want to explore or discuss in detail but it definitely was of interest. From his insistence on calling her Alice, his fixation on her wearing of a frilly dress and her own descent into the hellish rabbit hole of an existence. It worked well but isn't an idea you would wish to connect with that of Cheshire Cats and shrinking potions.
Having become quite well versed in Elizabeth Scott's brand of frothy, snarky and fantastic contemporary romances this was a big one eighty in terms of themes. What is most brilliant, despite your feelings about the subject matter, is that she's chosen to leave most descriptions vague so as for your own imagination to interference the worst. Thankfully it's short so the effect of the novel takes hold without truly plundering your soul!
A troubling, thought provoking read.
Published: September 2008
Format: Paperback, 170 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source of the Review Copy: purchased