I wouldn’t label Untouchable by Scott O’Connor a fun read. It was tough but excellent. The author did a masterful job of writing stream of consciousness and keeping the reader engaged. He picked a very hard topic–grief and he demonstrated two responses to grief in his two main characters.
The story is about how a father and son deal with extreme grief after the sudden loss of their wife/mother. The book really looks at denial (the Kid) and reaction formation (the dad). The shock of the mother’s death sent both father and son nearly over the edge.
As the child (or The Kid) in the book, you begin to doubt (or I did) whether or not the mother is really dead (I’ll not give anything away). You go into denial with him. The author does an outstanding job of painting this character and his extreme insecurities. O’Connor also shows the Kid’s talents and gives the reader hope that he’ll get through the trauma he faces. As a teacher himself, the author painted an accurate but painful picture of how cruel children can be to one another.
The Kid’s father, who is his only stable adult figure, is far from stable. As the book progresses, the father goes further and further off the deep end. The reader worries about what he will do next. He works in a very stressful job–a cleaning service that cleans up after crime scene teams finish. They clean up blood and bodily fluids in places where people have died a violent death. As a reader, I wished the author had selected another kind of work for this father. It was hard enough reading about the trauma of the loss of the mother, but to read about other people’s violent loss as well, that was extreme.
But, O’Connor was very skillful and he knew he had to make us all understand the pain the man and his son were going through.
One reviewer called this story bleak. Tragic might be a better word. But, things work out in the end. It’s not a Hollywood ending, which wouldn’t have fit the theme or the voice and would have insulted the readers. Instead, I felt satisfied. I felt as if there was hope that the two people would work through their grief.
I say congratulations to Scott O’Connor on a well-written book that made it to my Must-Read list.