See How Small
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: 01/20/2015
Rating: 4 Stars
A riveting novel about the aftermath of a brutal murder of three teenage girls, written in incantatory prose "that's as fine as any being written by an American author today." (Ben Fountain)
One late autumn evening in a Texas town, two strangers walk into an ice cream shop shortly before closing time. They bind up the three teenage girls who are working the counter, set fire to the shop, and disappear. SEE HOW SMALL tells the stories of the survivors--family, witnesses, and suspects--who must endure in the wake of atrocity. Justice remains elusive in their world, human connection tenuous.
Hovering above the aftermath of their deaths are the three girls. They watch over the town and make occasional visitations, trying to connect with and prod to life those they left behind. "See how small a thing it is that keeps us apart," they say. A master of compression and lyrical precision, Scott Blackwood has surpassed himself with this haunting, beautiful, and enormously powerful new novel.
A special thank you to First Reads, and Little, Brown and Company for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Scott Blackwood delivers spellbinding SEE HOW SMALL, a short novel of the aftermath of a brutal murder of three teenage girls with magical lyrical and creative prose – intrigue, incarnation, human dynamics, and supernatural elements. They were daughters. They were loved. They were innocent. They were cursed. They were unlucky. They were careless. They asked for it. They had no choice. They were afraid. They were brave. They trusted. They were betrayed. They suffered. They heard a voice They saw the light. A small Texas town, three teenage girls, two strangers, an ice cream shop; a robbery, an innocent one, a fire. A crime, brutal murders, an act of violence. What comes next is grief, suspects, guilt, a plan of revenge, mother (Kate), firefighter and finder (Jack), bad guys-arsonists, Rosa (reporter), Iraq vet (Hollis), getaway teen driver (Michael); the human mind, and spirits from beyond. They are being observed. Five years after the still unsolved crime, the three girls continue to visit and observe the town and the people left behind. The characters are flawed and troubled. “See how small a thing it is that keeps us apart,” they say. A haunting and powerful novel from past to present of three teenage girls: Elizabeth, Zadie, and Meredith. Readers learn about each character, as we move from one anniversary to another of the grief, and aftermath of this brutal crime. The community, the close connections, the dead and the living. There have been many mixed reviews of SEE HOW SMALL.Possibly for some readers, adding titles of each section by character name would have been easier to follow. However, the novel works and may not appeal to everyone, so keep an open mind. If you enjoy imagery, creativity, some ghostly resurrections, dreams, symbolism, human dynamics, an eccentric and creepy factor, the human mind, and unsolved cases – written skillfully, with cleverness and compassion; you will enjoy this short thought-provoking and unique book. For me, it was more about the writing style, as a work of literary fiction, versus the actual story as not a big fan of the supernatural; however, find it intriguing to explore the human mind. SEE HOW SMALL would make an excellent choice for book clubs or discussions, diving into each character’s personality.This was my first book by Blackwood, and look forward to reading more!