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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Because of its uniqueness, Children of Violence by Luke Gherardi was quite a surprise that kept me thinking about its contents, characters, and style for days after I finished reading it. How did this author tap so deeply into my emotions in only 138 pages? The opening chapter in which Gracie, a little girl, confronts a bank robber during an actual heist and offers to pray for him blew me away. Unforgettable emotionally. Even well-written novels by experienced authors haven’t resonated with me as deeply as did this one short story. I had to continue reading.
Gherardi filled me in on Gracie’s mob-connected father along with a creepy lottery-winning millionaire pedophile who shouldn’t have lured Gracie into his home. Then there is the heartbreaking story of Reeves who lives with a religiously fanatical mother guilty of an unmentionable sin. And there is Robbie who only wants to protect his younger brother and chooses the wrong way to do it, and Cole, trying to cope with his PTSD-afflicted father. To reveal more details on each of these characters would be a travesty and an insult to this brilliant writer. You must read each story yourself and don’t be surprised if, like me, you feel you want to read all 138 pages again because there are too many Robbies, Coles, Reeves, and Gracies being raised by parents like theirs. In each case, the consequences for the children are unforgivable and unforgettable.
Apart from the characters and their stories, what makes this book unique is the author’s style. He is a literary minimalist who has mastered the art of saying so much in so few words. He fractures writing rules, but he does it so well that rules are the last thing on any reader’s mind. Gherardi draws us in so subtly that we coast along and don’t anticipate the shocks when they come…and come they do. The character, Gracie, ties the stories, plots, and people together, but there is no one key protagonist. In conclusion, Gherardi’s approach is unusual, to say the least, and to this would-be writer/reviewer, utterly enviable. I loved this book!