The soft, seedy lighting of this photograph of the cover is quite fitting for a book that starts, ‘First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.’
Narrated in the voice of a fifteen year old boy whose naiveté masks the darkness of the tale that unfurls. Dell Parsons the son of Bev, ‘a smiling, talkative only son of Scotch-Irish Alabama backwoods timber estimators – and Keeva Kamper, ‘a tiny, intense, bespectacled woman with unruly brown hair, downy vestiges of which ran down her jawline… and a pale indoor complexion that made her appear fragile – which she wasn’t.’
The physical description of his parents seemingly at odds with the assertion that they were ‘the least likely two people in the world to rob a bank.’ There is something odd in the mis-match marriage filtered through adolescent eyes and the wise eyes of the the older man.
It is a coming of age story, delightful on one level but so stark. Parents in their mid to late thirties ruin their lives and those of their children when they decide to rob a bank. When they are arrested and incarcerated the children never see them again. Dell and his twin sister Berner have to fend for themselves. Dell’s plans of going to high school, joining the chess club, making new friends and, God forbid, fitting in are over for ever. Berner runs away and Dell is taken over the border to Canada to live as a backwoodsman almost in complete isolation because his mother had assumed that life in a state orphanage – the only alternative – would be worse.
Then there is the gruesome, casual murder, but for that – read the book!