“The world has wounded this boy terribly, Marsh, and he can’t forgive it. He’s angry and obstinate and fears nothing— even and especially me. I just can’t make this boy see and act for his own good. He hides from the world in that bloody garden and paints the moments of his life, ignoring his past and thereby rejecting his future.(…)” (p. 170).
What would you do if you lost it all in a terrible car crash and had to live with the haunting guilt that you weren’t able to do anything to save your loved ones from the cold hands of death? This is the story of Norman Albert Steves, the protagonist of the debut novel entitled A Wounded World, written by Crit Kincaid. Tormented by constant nightmares where the teen (who prefers to be called Normal) lives over and over again the terrifying last moments of his family’s life, the guilt and self-hatred, but also the acute feeling of loneliness that comes along with the pain and loss. Normal is stuck between his memories and his fears. If this wasn’t enough, the only relative the boy still has, Granny Rachel, who suffers from ALS, can’t take care of him anymore, due to her declining health. Thus, the teen is forced to face his greatest fears. How will this hypersensitive and talented boy cope with this world that always seems to hurt him and who will manage to bring him back into the light?
“He’s like that graveyard cat, who hunts mice amongst graves at night and occasionally ventures out into the bright light of the living world. But even then, he stays in the shadows, avoiding contact, forgetting that his natural place is with the living and not with the dead.” (p. 186)
I won’t give away more details, because this is one of those books where you need to plunge into it without knowing too much about the story. What I can say is that I felt a deep connection with Normal, because anyone who lost a loved one in their childhood can relate to this boy’s story along with the fear of being abandoned or losing the loved ones who are still alive. There’s also the fear of the past and the temptation to run away from it in order to suffer less. There are also other situations that made me relate to Normal. For example, he was bullied at school because he stuttered, while I was laughed at because I was visually impaired. The paranormal elements are amazing and to be honest, if it weren’t for them, I would have given this book a much lower rating.
A Wounded World is a paranormal young adult book I highly recommend to anyone, regardless of what genre you love to read, because any reader will find closure and a different message, depending on each person’s life experience. Young Adult books don’t usually appeal to me that much, but I’m impressed by how many themes and issues are intertwined and discussed in this book in a way that makes you pause and think about each one of them.
by Alina Andreea Cătărău