Thursday, March 31, 2016


Armadillos by P. K. Lynch
Legend Press: 4/1/16
eBook review copy; 288 pages
ISBN-13: 9781785079603

Armadillos by P. K. Lynch is a highly recommended story of a teenage survivor.

Fifteen year old Aggie has been told by her older sister JoJo that they are "subs" in a "sub" family. It seems that what that means is that JoJo and Aggie must accept the sexual abuse by their father and brother on a weekly basis. On some deep level she knows the abuse is wrong, but knows no other life and JoJo seems to think they need to just accept it. One day something propels Aggie to walk away. She leaves the house and just keeps walking, escaping the abuse as her mother and other brother have done.

As a teenage runaway, Aggie engages in dangerous behavior, hitchhiking and then extorting money from her rides. She makes her way to a city and aligns herself with a group of misfits through Freak, another teen runaway she met on the streets. Freak brings her home to a squat, a house being inhabited by a group of misfits. This quasi-family of bohemian squatters represents a safe place and become a sort of dysfunctional family for Aggie. But Aggie keeps having disturbing dreams and worries about what is happening to JoJo. She wants to find a way to help her sister escape too.

Freak is not the friend that Aggie thinks she is, however. Things become more complicated and Aggie suddenly finds herself involved in a dangerous situation not of her making from which there is no good way to escape.

In terms of content, Armadillos is not an easy novel to read. It is heartbreaking - opening with a family where chronic, systematic sexual abuse is the norm. Then Aggie walks away with nothing and no plan... when what the world may offer her could be just as bad as what she's leaving. I couldn't help but wish Aggie found a shelter for abused women and children, that the information was available to her that there are safe places she could go where she would be believed. And that officials - law enforcement, hospitals, etc., don't represent the enemy. I desperately wanted her to tell her story to someone who could help her.

This is a very well written debut novel. Even though the content is tragic, Lynch accurately describes the setting and captures dialect of Texas. The plot flows well and the narrative is compelling. There are a few plot points that felt too... convenient. While I took note of them, I overlooked them because the writing is so good, expressive and lyrical. Lynch's writing combined with the storyline created an urgency that made it imperative to keep reading to find out what happened next.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Legend Press for review purposes.

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