Thursday, April 14, 2016
The Small Backs Of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch
It was an award-winning photo, one that was instantly recognizable and that defined a war. It was shot in Eastern Europe in one of the wars that was fought so long that people forgot there was even a war going on. It caught a young girl in mid-flight as she was flung out of her house which was exploding after a direct mortar hit. Her blonde hair haloed her head and she seemed to emerge from the picture, asking for help and recognition. She disappeared as she had emerged, into the war torn country. No one knew who she was, where she went or if she was dead or alive.
In America, the photographer won prizes and launched her successful career. She sent a copy to her first love, a writer. The writer had been married to a famous painter, but was now married to a filmmaker. Her brother was a successful playwright. Another friend was known far and wide for her poetry. Each of them was affected by the photograph, but none as viscerally as the writer. She had just had a stillborn daughter and was having a difficult time adjusting to the world without her child.
These artistic individuals came up with a plan to help the writer recover. They decided that they would find the girl in the picture and bring her to America. They hoped that giving the girl a second chance at life would help the writer to also find her way back to life. Undeterred by the difficulties, they came up with a plan that would allow them to find the child and smuggle her into the country.
This book was is gripping. It bursts into the reader's mind and refuses to let go until the last page. It turns thoughts of bodies and love, violence, relationships, war and art on their heads and shows them in differing ways. The sex and violence are raw and this book is probably not for everyone. But it is one of the most important books I've read and it will stay with me for quite a while. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and those who want to know how the world works and how people fit into it.