Not My Ruckus | Book Review
Thank you, BookSirens for sending me an eARC of Not My Ruckus, by Chad Musick, in exchange for my honest review.
When I requested this on BookSirens I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This is a coming of age story, set in the USA around the 1980s, following a 14-year old named Clare. We see our main character growing up, finding a best friend in her neighbour Esther, questioning her family and her beliefs, but we do so in a completely twisted way.
This book is not for the faint of heart. Its contents are graphic, brutal, and made it so that, by the end, I wasn't even sure if I'd enjoyed it or not. Clare's surrounded by bad people who do horrible things, and at times I felt so sad for the characters being put in those situations I couldn't carry on reading.
The story's narrated by our main character, who is one of the most resilient teenagers I've ever come across. She's fierce and fiercely loyal, and the fact that she's also the narrator makes you go on this journey alongside her, and be fully thrown into her emotions, but also makes you have to read between the lines. The author never fully gave you something, unless Clare specifically found that out and I loved this. It leads to a very heartbreaking read, knowing things the character doesn't fully realise yet, and it made me even sadder when she eventually figured it out. The writing was my favourite part of this book. Even though it's a very heavy story, you want to keep reading because it just sucks you in.
The characters feel real, and you know that the horrible things they do are still all too present in today's society. The content warnings for this book are endless and the fact that most of the subjects this book deals with are very real and recurring made my heartache not only for our main characters but mostly for everyone out there struggling with these things. Throughout the book, all I wanted was for Clare and Esther to have a happy ending and maybe give them a hug.
As I said, I genuinely have no idea how I feel about this book. It's really good and well written, but I can't possibly say I enjoyed it. It wasn't an enjoyable read, it was a thoughtful one. Because as much as you know that this story could be absolutely real (the author himself said he pulled a lot of inspiration from his own personal life), it's completely different to face it from the victim's perspective.
The main character suffers from epilepsy and autism (the latter is never stated in the book, but the author makes it clear on the "Author's note"). Musick is both autistic and epileptic, and although I don't have any personal experience with either, this makes me believe that the representation is accurate. There are content warnings for child abuse and neglect (often related to religion), childhood sexual assault, gun violence, food deprivation, self-harm, teen pregnancy, miscarriage, exploitation of children, domestic violence, forced prostitution, arson, mutilation and maiming, incest, ableism, medical neglect, murder, and the author doesn't shy away from any of these, even if they're only implied.
I think that if you like to go through emotional and twisted journeys with your characters, this is definitely the book for you. It's one that'll make you think and I can see the story popping back up in my mind for years to come.