Title: The Painted Bird
Author: Jerzy Kosinski
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Adult Fiction
Content Warnings: Graphic violence, graphic rape, animal cruelty, abuse towards women and minors, racism, pedophilia, anti-Semiticism, depictions of war.
DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers for The Painted Bird.
Synopsis: A harrowing story that follows the wanderings of a boy abandoned by his parents during World War II, The Painted Bird is a dark novel that examines the proximity of terror and savagery to innocence and love.
Words cannot accurately depict the visceral disgust that I feel towards this book.
I don’t even know why I picked up this book from my local library. I believe I was on a horror-kick or something with my reading list, and I was recommended this book online. I am so glad that I only checked out this book instead of wasting the money I would have spent to purchase it.
The problem with this book is not so much the subject that is being written about; historical fiction holds truths about events and eras within our history that are important to keep alive in our works. There is no question in my mind that World War II brought forth some of the most atrocious accounts of violence and human depravity in our world’s history.
However, where I have issue with this book is the wildly grotesque depictions of violence that the narrator, an unnamed child, experiences and witnessed throughout the course of the novel for seemingly no reason. There is also not one sympathetic character in the entirety of the book that the narrator meets. Every other page or so, this boy is being either cruelly assaulted or watching someone else be graphically beaten up and/or raped. Kosinski truly went beyond just saying that World War II brought out the perversion of humans: Kosinski actively tried to show us by attempting to bring this perversion to life through the illustration of words. He painted out some of the most horrific images in his scenes, images so vile that they made me feel physically ill at times.
Additionally, there was criticism about Kosinski passing off this book as an autobiographical story, or at the very least not denying that this was not a true story based on his own experiences. The fact that Kosinski profited off the events of the Holocaust and World War II by trying to pass this novel off, with everything contained within, as something that happened to him is repulsive.
This book was very nearly added to my DNF list, but to give Kosinski’s writing a fair chance, I read through until the end. I can now say that I would never recommend this novel to anyone, and am incredibly glad that I didn’t spend any of my own money on this book.
Title: The Garden House
Author: Marcia Willett
Genre(s): Adult Fiction, Grief, Family
Gisselle's Rating: 3.5/5
Release Date: August 17, 2021
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers for The Garden House.
The Garden House by Marcia Willett is a tale of love, grief, death, and secrets uncovered. Fresh out of university, El moves to the small town of Tavistock following the abrupt death of her father, Martin, and inherits his home in the countryside called the Pig Pen. Grappling with her new reality after her father’s death and figuring out what to pursue in life after university, El accepts the help of her stepbrother, Will, in maneuvering through her grief and sorting through Martin’s belongings. When El finds Martin’s phone and discovers coded text messages from someone called “J” within, El realizes that there was more to her father than she knew. As El and Will work to decipher the codes in the texts, they get closer to the truth, to the mysterious “J,” and to each other.
Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Adult Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Romance
Gisselle's Rating: 4.5/5
DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.
Once I began college, I fell off the wagon when it came to reading for pleasure. I enjoyed the analyzation process and literary criticism of my degree, but it had been a while since I read a book because I wanted to immerse myself in a different world. So when I picked up this book for the first time in February, I was expecting a battle with myself to keep disciplined and focused on the story, to try to get back to that same level of passion that I had towards reading in my youth. However, my preparations weren't really needed; V.E. Schwab's masterful storytelling and ability to grip and immerse me completely in her world drew me in without reservation. I remembered what it felt like to completely fall into a new setting and story that was not mine.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue depicts a devastating concept: a young woman makes a deal with an entity to be immortal, but at the ghastly price of being forgotten by everyone she encounters. On first assumption of the text's contents, I thought it was going to be about an immortal that would not be able to leave a mark on the world in the sense that perhaps she could not have children or could not become famous. I was not aware to the extent of the excruciating nature of Addie LaRue's reality, which was that she would not be remembered at all, leaving no memory of her presence even after she left someone's life for only a moment. However, all what Addie knows of her new life changes when she is introduced to Henry Strauss, a wandering soul that works in a local bookstore in New York City, and the first person to have remembered Addie since making her bargain.