When I was first given The Blood on My Hands to review, the story sounded interesting. It is the autobiography of a child with a serial killer for her father. I suppose the premise is to survive that kind of horrific childhood. To that end, the author did so with great strength but certainly not unscathed. I began reading with high hopes.
Unfortunately this is a difficult story to get into so I was quickly disappointed. I’ll be up-front and admit my dislike for first person narratives and passive sentence structures. I hoped this book would be an exception because it is an autobiography. Instead, it reinforced my reasons for disliking those writing styles. I strongly believe this story, which is indeed powerful, could’ve knocked me out of my chair had I been allowed to see and feel the child’s experiences along with her instead of simply being told about them. Where are all five senses within its description? I saw many missed opportunities for the author to grab me by the throat and drag me in.
Among elements which brought me out of the story were an unnecessary prologue; time jumping both forward and backwards; unnecessary minutiae about parents’ and grandparents’ pasts; and concepts beyond the scope or vocabulary of a young child. While it is certainly possible for a child to contemplate suicide, the idea of a four year old considering taking her own life brought out my skepticism in the middle of the prologue.
I do applaud Ms. O’Leary (a pseudonym) for coming forward with her story. I know it took some raw courage to do so. As a book, this one didn’t do much for me. It might make an interesting movie though, where the visual aspects could fill in the details. Hey, read it for yourself and decide what you think.
The Blood on My Hands
By Shannon O’Leary