An interesting debut novel, indicative of a semi-autobiographical story - Melanie Thorne's Hand Me Down is the author's descent into fiction. This unforgettable novel depicts the intimacy of a narrative memoir of a 14-year old girl struggling to deal with the chaos of an emotionally destructive life.
Elizabeth and her younger sister, Jamie realize early on that they don't have anyone to depend on as they try to cope with the knowledge their parents are not only incapable of caring for them, but have little or no desire to do so. After their mother, Linda chooses a man over them, she displays an incredible degree of indifference toward her daughters and their well being. What is even more disturbing, Linda didn't toss her daughters aside for just any man, no, she sagged a real prize when she married, Terrance a convicted sex offender. Terrance is the kind of man who takes pleasure in tormenting Liz each time he brushes against her, breathes on her, licks his lips as he speaks inappropriately to her and prances around half-dressed, knowing Liz will remain silent because he's already threaten to approach young Jamie with the same attention, if Liz doesn't keep quite. After the girl's alcoholic father who faithfully beat Linda during their marriage, notifies the parole office that Terrance is in violation of his parole by living in the house with the girls; Liz thinks she, Jamie and their mother can get back to life before Terrance and perhaps enjoy their childhood in a normal environment. Instead, loving mom, chooses the sex offender over her own offspring. While Jamie is sent to live in a trailer park with her dad, Liz is shipped off to Terrance’s brother, Gary, and his wife. Liz can't concentrate on her studies, friends or anything a teenager should be focused on, because she is overly concerned and rightfully so, about her and Jamie's fate, considering no one else seems to be. Though she is mature beyond her years and is forced to accept what the adults tell her - "you'll be okay." "it's not that bad." "you're strong." - with the exception of her mother's sister, Tammy who lives in Utah, everyone else has conveniently forgotten Liz is a child who needs to be cared for.
As Elizabeth struggles and pleads to be reunited with her sister and even her mother, she is bounced around like hand me down luggage. From her mother, to her perverted step-father's brother Gary, to a neighbor, and then another relative, it is clear that the adults within Liz's circle are incapable of managing their own lives - and are not an exemplar role model for parenting; but of all the adults, Elizabeth and Jamie's mother is by far one of the most despicable characters, who continues to lie and pull further away from her children.
Author Throne pulls deeply from her real life experience which can be visualized through her emotional prose as she tells this tale of the devastating consequences that occur following a mother's decision to abandon her daughters for a sex offender - at some point it's as if you're reading Throne's diary when she was a teenager, a diary of a child that continually ask and doesn't understand, "why doesn't my mother love me? And "why won't anybody save me?"
Hand me down Liz is finally shipped off to Salt Lake City to stay with her mother's sister, Tammy an aunt who loves and cares for her the way a child should be cared for - but it doesn't end there. Question is, when and where does it end, and will Liz and her sister ever have a place to call home sweet home, some place that's considered their haven? You'll want to pick up a copy of Hand Me Down to learn what becomes of these girls who've been tossed aside by those that should love and protect them.
Review copy provided by publisher.
Hand Me Down by Melanie Thorne
Genre: Dramatic Fiction
Publication Date: April 12, 2012
Reviewed by Chrystal Dorsey, Goodreads.com