BY SEAN CLARK
Author: David Rehak
Best eBook Deal: Not Available
I learned of this book on some schmuck’s Amazon list of best young adult novels. A Young Girl’s Crimes is most certainly not a young adult book. Now, I can’t very well discredit the author because someone else mis-categorized the book, so I’ll place my dashed genre expectations aside. However, calling this book a novel is a stretch. I don’t say this merely because the book is short–128 pages; novella is more apt–but because it is structurally weak and poorly written. Along with poor syntax and word choice, there are a number of typesetting errors. Uncensored, Uncut, and Unedited would be a more fitting subtitle.
Really this is a book for nobody. (And by that I do not mean to imply it is written for anybody or everybody). It seems Rehak’s aim is to write either an edgy novel for a devoutly Christian audience, or to comment upon Christianity’s futility by using shock writing as his medium. I suspect the case is the first. In fact the novel was once referred to as “Christian porn” by a reviewing newspaper. The book begins with Flora, a sheltered rich girl in 1950s Canada (though the author doesn’t seem to find the setting very important, as it is never taken into account) who develops a fascination with La Philosophie dans le Boudoir. Develop may be a deceiving word here, because the characters are given very little room to breath and grow. They aren’t entirely static, but they are flat, and each and every one is hypocritical in some banal manner. Only a few pages after discovering de Sade, she murders her crotchety tutor with a pillow with little provocation, then performs cunnilingus on the dead elderly woman and masturbates while violently beating the corpse. This scene is presented in graphic detail. So is Flora’s molestation and beating of a young boy, her year-long foray into homosexuality with the replacement tutor, and the anal sex she has with her brother. Wow.
Eventually she meets a kindly old Bible thumper who preaches God’s loving forgiveness to her. This was hard to get through: Not because I’m averse to religiosity in books, in fact some healthy commentary for or against religious devotion would be welcomed, but because there are no authorial fingerprints in this section. The old man’s prattling about the Bible could easily have been directly quoted from door-to-door prosthyletizers. Because of this it reads robotically, soulless. There are even block quotes from the Bible (to be fair, there are also block quotes from de Sade, translated by the Rehak, but they add just as little to the story and only emphasize the authors inability to aptly convey meaning by his own hand). It would be nice if there were any way to read these passages other than as direct preaching to the reader but there isn’t. Subtext is non-existent in this book; the plot moves as gracefully as a bowling ball banging down a spiral staircase. Spoiler: Flora repents to God once cornered by the police against a cliff precipice, then in a conventional and not shocking ending jumps to her death. There is even an epilogue paragraph that is so sophomoric it includes a newspaper headline trumpeting Flora’s death.
Preachiness and poor plotting would be forgivable if the writing was even a degree above juvenile. In a quick Google of this author, I found people lauding him as brilliant and a prodigy. How’s this for prodigious?:
“If anybody’s liquored up or drugged up, it’s you! So beat it, before I beat you into a coma.”
“Oh, I’m really scared,” said the cheeky kid, snickering. “Is that what you did to her?”
If Bill didn’t have Stephanie on his hands–literally!–he would have caught the boy and bloodied him up a bit. But he decided he had far more important things on his mind than childishness.
Or how about this?:
The parts of her body that hurt most were her injuries.
When you break it down, most of this book is far too vulgar for the devout Born Agains who might appreciate the questions it tries to pose, and the sadists who could (in some opinions) benefit from the bible preaching probably won’t find their lives in sea change after reading this drivel anymore than they would from the pamphlets pushed by the crazy homeless doomsayers who hang out near subway stations. This book is for neither readership, and perhaps that is what Rehak is attempting to say, but that’s giving him too much credit. For those readers who like to search in all sorts of places in order to find a good book: look elsewhere. This is not a good book, in any respect.
Other books (read the first, avoid the second two): The Philosophie dans le Boudiour (de Sade), Bibleman Combat Manual: Strategic Training In Bible Memory Verses (Aames), Still Growing: An Autobiography (Cameron).