Michael is an engineer; a 28 year-old boy who is very successful at work but not in his social life: he does his projects at home and rarely goes out, and the only relationship with a woman he has had happens every Saturday, when he sees a prostitute called Jacquie. One Saturday night when Jacquie is leaving, they find an unconscious, undernourished and probably drugged girl on the road; Michael looks after her while the ambulance is coming and the following days he feels worried about the girl, so he visits her in the hospital several times and they begin to fall in love with each other.
Her name is Jenny, she is fourteen and has had a really tough live: she had been sexually abused by her father, then he died and her mother abandoned her in the streets and she has been a prostitute mainly to get food and sometimes drugs until now. Michael feels guilty about having certain feelings towards a girl who is under-age, but it turns out that he is the only one who visits her and Jenny knows it, so she encourages him to keep on visiting and, eventually, take her to his house, which happens in the second part of the book.
What I liked about the book was two things. First of all, the relationship between Jenny and her father is rather complicated: it should have began as a child’s game of exploration at daddy’s bed – that her father didn’t discourage – when her mother went to work and ended up in a relationship between lovers in which Jenny was the dominant half and looked for it every morning, her father being the only one who felt guilty – sometimes. So Jenny never regrets it because for her it was normal, and remembers it as the best moments of her life.
This is so shocking. In fact, I have seen on Goodreads that many people gave up reading at this point, but despite the shock I think this is great for discussion owing to the controversy about what is normal and what is not in this Electra complex taken to the limit.
Besides, we have also the relationship between Michael and Jenny, which is also forbidden, but “less forbidden” than incest, and frustrates them since they feel like a couple but they have to avoid sex and they can’t explain their situation to others.
But the way the story is developed isn’t very good. The dialogues are terrible: I know that Jenny is a girl that hasn’t had an education and she has to speak like that, but Michael is an engineer; he must be used to talking with clients but every time he says something to Jenny or to the social workers he is monotonous and often ridiculous, so it sounds as if he has a mental age of ten. These dialogues make the read slow instead of adding some rhythm. On the other hand, I am really worried about the poor Australian children who are under the care of the social services of that country because, if the book is accurate, they can be left with the first stranger who seems to care for them, claiming that he loves a certain child and wants to began a relationship with her. This lack of responsibility of the social services is quite disturbing and makes the story a bit incredible.
So well, this is not a book for everyone because there is sexual content that might disgust some readers, but nevertheless this is precisely the thought-provoking part of the story. For the rest, I wouldn’t recommend it.Keep calm and read 20 books in English: 17/20