Butcher Boy

I picked this up because it had been nearby as I was resting. It was an interesting read, but not for little kids. The subject matter is quite disturbing, and there is a dark humor through the book. I found it sad overall, and I was glad to finish the book. This is an example of someone being raised in a broken home (where the father is an alcoholic and mean, and that pretty much is the source of all the problems in the family).  Francie, the main character, has a skewed logic where he fixates on people or ideas that are unrelated or trivial, imagining some perceived harm that most people would not even think about and would ignore. The story is written in a stream of consciousness style, that conveys how confused or obsessed Francie was about the things happening around him, and his lack of access to a mentor who tried to help him understand his feelings and fears. His inability to understand another’s sympathy, the passage of time, or relate to other people in an open (honest) way (he always felt they were dishonest with him), mirrors his own attitudes toward people. He quite imagined that they were thinking the same things he was, that they were openly deceiving him, and mocking him for the sake of abusing him.  In truth, the other characters were just trying to be good and polite, in Francie’s mind he saw that as an attack or abuse. This is interesting because he largely ignores the abuse that happens in his home, and sees that as “normal” and sees the normal people as “abnormal”.  Francie grows up to be paranoid, psychotic, and delusional– and he rationalizes all the awful things he did, such as lashing out at people who are trying to help him, and being self absorbed and abusive in his treatment of others.
 The book showed an inside perspective on the unfortunate result of an unhappy home, and the desperate spiral for help that was ignored by the good townsfolk because they were unable to get this child into a happy home early enough, or fix his perception about himself. It is clear that the main character loathes himself, and wishes he were able to be like other people. Unfortunately, he is unable to get past the traumatic events of his life and look forward to new opportunities, instead he is always dwelling on the past and living in the anger of imagined hurts. Francie was exposed to violence and abuse early/long enough that it damaged him mentally and emotionally, and made him into a psychopath. Readers follow the trail of this descent from the internal dialogue, and its interesting because it shows just how bad society is at communicating and reaching across to crazy, mentally retarded, people.  There are no answers in the book, only the events that transpire as witnessed by Francie. The reader is left with an implicit critique on society and perhaps musings on how to reach out to people who might be trapped in dire domestic situations. I rate it **** for its unique perspective and turns of events. The book does not really have a plot, but provides a different view of mental illness and provokes sympathy for the situation.