This novel is a thinly fictionalized account of the author's experiences as a sexually abused child, told from its beginning to its end in cold, clear, unflinching prose in the style of a journal. As such, it reads like a stream of inner thoughts, hardly meant for the reader's eyes, but there nonetheless. It gives the text particular edginess that, for all its lack of literary deftness, makes for shocking and provocative reading.
Anna begins with her account of failing family life, in which her parents are in the throes of divorce. This sets the emotional backdrop for much of what ensues, when her mother eventually settles with a new and abusive partner. From there on, she recounts her descent into a cycle of sexual abuse, littered with pain, torment, secrets and lies. The story does have bright interludes here and there, and builds to a powerful conclusion, but it remains one of the darkest, most sinister things I have ever read. To put it into some kind of context, it is every bit as shocking to me as autobiographies of holocaust survivors, such as Wladislaw Spilman's "The Pianist", but here focussed on this one helpless child and, eventually, her sister. The episodes are interspersed with Anna's journey to the events at the end of the story. This device helps drive things along, and provides respite from the many horrendous situations in which she finds herself.
While there is no joy to be derived from reading this novel, it is a serious and worthy piece of work, with something important to say. It ought to be required reading for anyone interested in learning about the issues described.