Monster Love by Carol Topolski

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Title: Monster Love
Author: Carol Topolski
ISBN: 978-0141033389
Publisher:  Penguin
First Published:  Jan 2008 (hardback) / Sept 2008 (paperback)
No .of pages:  272

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
No one in the neighbourhood has seen the Gutteridges’ little girl Samantha for months. But Brendan and Sherilyn look happier than ever, so nothing is wrong. Is it?
For the Gutteridges, Samantha was just a thing that threatened to worm its way into their perfect love. For everyone else, her story is the stuff of tabloid headlines. But this time it’s not in a newspaper, it’s happening right next door . . .

Review:
I’ve only rated this average as I found the subject matter difficult to read.  This probably sounds silly and you may well ask “why did you read it then?” but it really is a well written book and once the difficult (but vital) details where over with, I really couldn’t put it down.

The story is about a couple who are so desperately in love that nothing can come between them.  They bond so closely that they feel nothing else is needed in their perfect world.  Along comes an unexpected child and we are thrown into the story of her abuse and eventual murder.  You are given brief glimpses of what she suffered at their hands, and this is more than enough for you to get the idea.  The author doesn’t need to go into details and once you are made aware of what happened, the focus then shifts on to the “why”.  The interesting thing about this book is the story being told in brief statements and recollections of everyone involved, from the neighbours who first alerted the police, to the parents of both of the perpetrators.  The only person who doesn’t get a say is the little girl herself.

As the threads of each story pull together, you build up a picture of how the parents evolved from early childhood and the events that lead to their despicable crime.  The story also continues through their trial and eventual imprisonment.

I read the whole book in one day, hoping to find some reason behind the crime, some sort of explanation to help ease my mind, but I got to the end of the book and there was none.  Personally, I don’t think their childhood or upbringing explains away any of their actions, although it is important to understand where they came from.  I suppose this is more true to life than I was expecting as there is rarely any explanation for these crimes.  Despite the difficult basis of the story, I would still recommend this, as a very well-constructed idea, which the author pulls off very well.

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