Little Scratch by Rebecca Watson: Book Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Publication Date: 14/01/2021

TW: sexual assault, rape

Synopsis: “Little Scratch tells the story of an unnamed woman living in a world of office politics, clock-watching and emoji-texting as she relays what it takes to get through mundanity in the wake of a recent sexual assault. Formatted in continuously interweaving columns that chart the feedback loop of memory, the senses, and modern distractions with witty precision, our narrator becomes increasingly anxious as the day moves on; and increasingly intent on distracting herself. Must she really drink eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated? Does the word “rape” apply to what happened to her? Why is the etiquette of the women’s bathroom so fraught? Does the colleague who keeps offering to make her tea know something? And why can’t she stop scratching? Fiercely moving and slyly profound, Little Scratch is a fearless and defiantly playful look at how our minds function in– and survive–the darkest moments.” (taken from Goodreads)

Review: I was initially drawn to this book as it is written in a poetry style format, which I always tend to love. However, this is completely unique and unlike any other book in verse, I have ever read. It challenges the reader to piece together the narrator’s thoughts and memories as the story moves from the bottom to the top of the page and from right to left. Although being a relatively short book, it has no distinct chapters or page breaks meaning it is a constant flow of storytelling. I think the lack of chapters worked amazingly in this story as it encourages the reader to say engaged and read on as there are no natural rests in the story to take a break, which works well with the idea that the narrator’s mind finds no peace and can’t shut down.

This book definitely pushed me outside my comfort zone, both in terms of its take on the poetry style and the content. It includes graphic images of assault and the readers get an insight into the real thoughts and feelings of a rape victim. I would have loved this book to discuss the issue of rape and sexual assault a lot more and provide the narrator and the reader with some finality and closure. I think there is a fine line between exploring important issues, such as rape, to give the reader a better understanding or to demonstrate it’s destruction and including harrowing topics in a book just for the sake of it, almost like a ‘buzz word’. I understand further elaboration of the topic in this book would subtract from the literary merit, however, authors should be careful with how the discussion of these topics could impact their readers.

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