For years Alice has done what she is told, has tried to be the perfect Alice, has tried to forget what she once was. It's not easy, she has to endure so much, and she has started to live in fear because she is not little Alice anymore, she is starting to change and grow into a young woman. Ray doesn't want Alice to change, he wants her to stay his little girl, and every time she gains to much weight or seems to grow he does all he can to stall her growth and keep her little.
But worst of all, Ray is starting to look at other girls the way he once looked at Alice, he is looking at them like he would like to bring them home and make them into a new Alice. For years Alice has lived a life that has been torture and a living death, but there is something worse to come - what if she is replaced and discarded, or killed and left to be found like trash like the original Alice was? Can she become the monster who finds her own replacement?
This is not an easy read for so many reasons. The story of Alice, while not particularly graphic made my skin crawl, not only because the idea of a child shaped and twisted by a paedophile was so revolting, but also because in the back of my mind was the realisation that this actually happens to people. It was also difficult to read because Alice has such a tortured voice, a mix of being an adult too soon, and being a broken and sad figure who just wants to hang onto life and be free.
There are times throughout the story where you hope that she might be free, and then something happens or someone looks the other way and your heart sinks. The ending when it comes is short and sharp and just takes your breath away. It was a quick read of just a few hours, but it has stayed with me like so few stories has - and in many ways reminds me of When rabbit howls and the story of women who have endured rape and torture and fractured into multiple personalities, whereas little Alice stayed whole in the sense of one personality, but also broken in the sense of being so controlled by Ray.
This is one novel that I would recommend for older teen readers rather than 'tweens or younger teens - due not only to the subject matter, but also because of the blunt writing style. If you are going to give this to a teenager then please read it yourself first so that when they come to you with questions (and I guess that they will) that you have some answers ready for them.
If you read this book and would like to read similar books then try:
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Sold by Patricia McCormick
- Because I am furniture by Thalia Chaltas
- Boy toy by Barry Lyga
- Such a pretty girl by Laura Wiess
- Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
- Stolen by Lucy Christopher
- Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher
Reviewed by Brilla