Book Review: The Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp

The Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp

Title: The Lesser Blessed

Author: Richard Van Camp

Genre: Literary Fiction

Number of Pages: 128

Rating: B+

Recommended?: Yes

TW: Child Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Drug Abuse

The Lesser Blessed gives us a glimpse into the troubled life of Larry, a Native American teenager who is bullied at school and haunted by his father’s sexual abuse. Larry starts hanging out with a disreputable but charming guy named Johnny and as he starts using drugs, his already fragmented narrative becomes more and more hallucinatory. This was one of the most unique narratives I’ve ever read, and Larry was alternately crass and painfully vulnerable and na├»ve.

This is undoubtedly a disturbing book, from the harsh portrayal of child abuse to it’s characters’ constant objectification of women. There isn’t some big moment where Larry comes of age, or a pivotal point in his character arc. It’s messy, just like real life. All the characters are believable, from the kids who inhabit Larry’s high school world to the adults.

More or less everybody is morally gray and even though Larry’s narrative voice could be confusing at times, it also pulled me in early on with Richard Van Camp’s hypnotic prose. Despite it’s dark themes, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and right after I read it I downloaded several of this author’s short story collections on my Kindle.

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