Living Dead Girl ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
by Elizabeth Scott
Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.
When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
I struggled with how to rate this book — from 1 star, to 5 stars, to no stars. There is a part of me that regrets ever having picked up this book, and definitely a part of me that (for better or worse) will never forget reading it. My first visceral reaction to it was that Scott had penned an outrageously exploitative, gratuitous book, one so gruesome in parts, and so fully realized, that I felt like an accomplice, aiding and abetting “Alice’s” abductor. The book left me reeling from shock and revulsion. Yes, it’s that graphic.
I will say what I said after reading Jerzy Kosiński’s The Painted Bird: “Can people really be that cruel and savage towards one another? Of course they can, I just don’t like to be reminded of it especially by a writer with such obvious talents.” And Elizabeth Scott is a very talented writer, and in her hands, this story will not just haunt you, but hurt you.
Having said that, this is an important book, one that throws a spotlight on a taboo subject we all wish didn’t exist. But it does exist, for countless abducted children, and for countless children victimized by family or friends. I had a friend explain to me why she thought this book is so important, and I had to agree with her: this book doesn’t make us an accomplice, but rather a witness — in the reading we are bearing witness to such awful, indescribable crimes, much as we would when reading a book about the Holocaust. You bear witness so that you won’t ever forget all those nameless, faceless victims. We bear witness so that maybe next time, we will recognize when something’s “not right”, we will identify the child in distress who cannot ask for help. Rating: ★★★★★