Children of Violence


Fiction - Drama
138 Pages
Reviewed on 07/08/2021
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    Book Review

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!

K.C. Finn

Children of Violence is a work of fiction in the drama and social issues genres. It is aimed at older readers and was penned by Luke Gherardi. The book follows four young characters as they grow up in the shadow of adults who deal in violence in one form or another, from Gracie’s physically abusive father to Robbie’s mother being a sex worker to Reeves's radicalization as a child soldier and Cole living with his father who wrestles daily with PTSD. Each of the stories is a study on how violent environments affect the children growing up in them and, as they begin to interact with each other, the children are left with decisions that will determine just how much violence will go on to define them as adults.

The great strength of this book in studying the theme of violence, and how it affects the young who witness it, is in having four diverse characters who each have their own experiences with the issue. It’s too easy with complex issues to try to define a 'one size fits all' solution to the problem, but as Luke Gherardi is keen to reflect in the story, there are so many different situations in which young people find themselves. The resolution that one character finds wouldn’t work for another and the author is savvy enough to reflect this in the work. The characters in Children of Violence are excellently portrayed with each of them feeling like a unique individual on an equally unique journey. This is made most prominent in the sections where they meet each other, as despite having violence in common they don’t always manage to find common ground. This is a brilliant exploration of a delicate issue done through a compelling story. I’d recommend this book to anyone.

Astrid Iustulin

Stories of violence are always terrible, but when they involve children, they are even worse. The four young protagonists of Luke Gherardi's novel Children of Violence - Robbie, Gracie, Reeves, and Cole - know what it is like to grow up in dangerous places and with violent people. Although they come from various backgrounds and have different family histories, this novel will bring them all together. In the harsh and intense pages of Children of Violence, the reader will learn about the four protagonists and accompany them in their increasingly terrible vicissitudes.

I am not a reader who usually looks for books where the theme of violence is central. However, when I read one of them, it depends on the fact that some element of the plot is relevant to me. In the case of Children of Violence, it caught my attention because the protagonists of the book are four kids who suffer from the consequences of exposure to a violent environment. Luke Gherardi has chosen a delicate but significant theme for his novel - a theme that deserves attention and reflection even after the stories of the four protagonists are over. Children of Violence is a book that you read quickly, thanks to the author's fluent style, but the story it tells will continue to resonate for a long time. Overall, I am glad I have read this book, even if the context gets very gloomy at times and is definitely not a read for the faint of heart.