Bee and Jacky – Carolyn Coman,
Bee’s parents want her and her brother Jacky to take a trip with them to their grandparents’ house; the two siblings lived there when they were younger, and the upcoming trip brings up memories of their childhood games. What seems at first to be war games, one soldier rescuing another as imaginary bombs and gunfire explode around them, is slowly revealed as a more troubling memory of precocious sexual play.
Bee and Jacky is a difficult novel to evaluate, I think. To tackle incest, and to write about it well and with some emotional honesty, takes skill and a firm hand. I think you had both of those in abundance, though, when writing this. It’s clear without being graphic, sensitive without holding back, and rather stream-of-consciousness without being incomprehensible. You capture the confusion of sexual awakening so brilliantly, and it’s only multiplied by the trauma of a father drastically changed by war and the discomfort of incestuous desire. It’s such a strange story, but really compelling, and fills a void that not many other authors venture into. And all of that in such a slim little book! I found myself wishing it were just a little bit longer, and that the parents were fleshed out a little bit more, but nevertheless it’s an impressive job tackling a difficult subject. Four stars.