Go Home Lake

Megs Beach. Second Story (UTP, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (296p) ISBN 978-1-927583-80-7
Beach's middling debut novel is narrated by Penny, the youngest of four siblings, whose story begins when she is a preschooler in 1967. Each year, the family leaves Toronto to spend summers at Go Home Lake in Ontario's cottage country. In contrast to the idyllic setting, the family is rife with dysfunction. The parents rage at and abuse one another and their children as their marriage falls apart. Penny is raised with the unquestioned misogyny and heteronormativity characteristic of the era, and is at best ignored and at worst actively placed into dangerous situations by her parents, in addition to being sexually assaulted by her brothers. The characters are portrayed through the unforgiving lens of an abused child, leaving them without discernible motives, and the narrative is largely made up of events that are incomprehensible to a child, resulting in an awful, humiliating blur. Moments of affection are infrequent and generally swiftly followed by abuse, and readers will be relieved when they're allowed to follow Penny into moments of dissociation. The author fails to make any of the characters, even Penny, sympathetic. This kind of story of a seemingly normal family with an appalling secret has been far better told by other writers. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015
Release date: 08/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
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