True Crime by Samantha Kolesnik

Samantha Kolesnik’s True Crime is a gritty deep dive into an abusive household and the horrible consequences of that abuse. It’s all the more awful for the plausibility of it.
Suzy’s only escape from the horrific emotional, physical, and sexual abuse from her mother–and boyfriend(s)–is reading True Crime magazines that she’s fixated on. Her only allies in the cruel childhood she’s experienced are her older brother, the emotionally detached Lim, and the unseen girl, Alice, held captive in the basement by Suzy’s mother, speaking to Suzy only through the heat registers. Little does she know that she and her older brother, Lim, are soon to create their own story befitting her favorite magazine…as she smashes an ashtray into her monstrous mother’s head…and that is only the beginning.
As Suzy evades justice and Lim winds up in prison for the murders no one imagines Suzy could have been involved with, we find ourselves wondering if she can be rehabilitated with a second chance and a clean slate.
The animal freakshow scene was deeply upsetting and made me want to attack the spectators as well, and the later scene where Suzy discovers the dogs made me sad too. Acts of cruelty and violence against animals do more to get under my skin than the same sort of violence perpetrated against people. It seems that Suzy and I have that in common.
Jennifer Pickens expertly narrates the audiobook edition of the story, capturing the equal measures of naivete and cruelty of Suzy’s first-person narrative.

I grew up in an abusive household in a rural region. This story hits close to home for anyone with that sort of background. While it was my father, rather than my mother, who levied the abuse, it doesn’t change much. That the abuse from my father was physical rather than sexual isn’t much of a difference. The sexual abuse, instead, came from a slightly older girl who lived next door and who saw a six or seven year old boy as a suitable way to learn about the differences between boys and girls. I wanted to include a little warning, in case anyone is triggered by these sorts of things.

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