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Worth reading 😎

A good story which succeeds far more than it fails in its purpose of showing just how hard it is to confront your inner demons.

Numb is a story about Fiona, a woman who has escaped her abusive husband with her boys Hugh and Lochie. They move to a peaceful farmhouse in the country, where they meet some other interesting characters – Alick, an old farmer who fought in Vietnam; Sven, a backpacker who works for Alick for a while; Peter, a doctor in a hospital, and so on. Fiona tries to deal with the overwhelming emotional baggage of her marriage and everything that happened, while dealing with a lot of other problems here and there.

The story is well told, and I particularly like how it explores the emotional turmoil victims of domestic violence. Healing is never straightforward and involves a lot of niggles. Fiona’s story is delicately told, delivered with care, and yet is brash and bold in what it wants to express. This is a rather palatable combo to swallow.

I also love how the author showed that sometimes, family makes things worse in their innocent efforts to make things better. Fiona’s mother pesters her. Her sister makes some faux pas. Her son Hugh is unnecessarily stubborn and it makes things worse for her. She doesn’t know anything and makes some mistakes of her own too that makes things worse, which is another thing I thought the author handled well.

Alick is an intriguing character too. A bit weird, a loner who doesn’t like people, and a man who is haunted by memories from before the war. The man and his narrative are nuanced, seemingly opposite qualities melding together in a wonderful story about family and the impulsiveness of youth and how sometimes, even though memories may be all we have, we need to let ourselves heal.

Sven and Peter are interesting characters too, ones which, if they had been fully fleshed out, would have made for incredible supporting characters. Alas this is not the case. Sven’s story feels unnecessarily elongated, which should not have been the case. His story would’ve dragged on longer than the main story if it had not been abruptly ended with scarcely any explanations. He had potential which could have been utilised better.

Peter seems like a character just added in last minute to drop some anvils and give Fiona a romantic interest, which was a bit annoying, because Peter is such a great guy, you guys!

Lastly, Fiona’s husband is very one-dimensional, and I feel that made it hard to really connect with what the author tried to do with him. He feels like a caricature, and abusers are rarely caricatures.

In all, it’s a good story. I hope you enjoy reading it too.

Reviewed by

Hello. My name is Precious Oluwatobi Emmanuel.

I am 21 years old, and passionate about books generally and fiction in particular.

I enjoy reading. I write too, and I like dark rooms. They're so peaceful. And dark. And peaceful.

I live in Kano, Nigeria with my mom and siblings

The Crack of It

About the author

A writer of short stories, a book reviewer and a novelist, Gabrielle spends half her time on a small property near Tamborine Mountain and the rest living on a boat in Queensland’s Moreton Bay. She has worked as a journalist for twenty years. Numb is her first published novel view profile

Published on September 30, 2020

50000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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