Title: Blood Gravity
Author: Gayle Towell
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Novella
Number of Pages: 112
Trigger Warnings: Child Rape, Incest (graphic,) Self-Mutilation (graphic)
I didn’t realize until after I had finished this book that it’s a prequel to a full-length novel called Broken Parts. I’m honestly not sure if I can bring myself to read the next book, though. Holy shit, guys. This book is really really really disturbing. Trigger warnings galore, and the lack of a resolution makes it even more unsettling. I’m sure there are lots of people who are in situations like this and it makes me sad to think about.
Jake is a gifted college student who was raped by his dad for years. He’s worried by his five-year-old brother Ben and his dad continuing the abuse. Even though the story feels somewhat incomplete (since it’s a prequel) it really portrays how much psychological damage Jake’s dad did and how badly he’s been gaslit. It also shows how people can justify anything.
I hope that in Broken Parts the dad is locked up and is subjected to some truly brutal prison justice. I wish Jake had been able to remove Ben from that environment. The mom was worse than usual. Jake tries to teach Ben to set up boundaries with his dad (like not being naked or going to the bathroom in front of him, lest he excite him) but it felt like he could have done more.
He wanted to help but still ultimately left him in a horrible situation. I don’t read a lot of self-publishing books, but this was well-written. It made me think more about self-publishing my own work. Despite how short it was I found myself engrossed and invested in a good outcome.
It did a good job of getting into Jake’s head and I thought it was interesting that a female writer decided to write about sexual abuse from a male perspective. Jake is torn between his sense of self-preservation and protecting his innocent little brother from the abuse he went through. Sometimes I thought it was TOO graphic, that the incest and self-mutilation could have used more subtext.
There was a trigger warning at the beginning, but I wasn’t expecting how explicit it would be. I don’t think most people who have been victims of incest should read this. I’m sure some of them can handle it but it’s the kind of thing that could really fuck up people who’ve been through similar abuse. I might or might not read Broken Parts but I sincerely hope Jake and Ben get a happy ending. They deserve that much.