REVIEW: LITTLE DEATHS, BY EMMA FLINT

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In 1965, Queens, New York, was still set in the old ways. Freedom and feminism had not struck there, so Ruth Malone, a single mother of two small children, Frankie, 6, and Cindy, 4, who worked as a cocktail waitress and had men friends, was looked down upon. She had one female friend, Gina, and feeling the scorn of other women and some men were a regular part of her life.

When her young children went missing one July night, she couldn’t explain what had happened. But right away, the cops on the scene had already decided to point the finger at her. Garbage cans with empty liquor bottles meant, to them, that she was a bad mother.

Cindy was found dead first, and a little while later, so was Frankie.

Little Deaths takes the reader behind the scenes as the cops, led by a bully of a man named Devlin, are searching for whatever evidence they can find to fit the story in their heads. That she, a bad mother, is guilty.

But not everything is that simple, and it will take months before a Grand Jury indicts her…and then a trial starts.

Meanwhile, a rookie reporter, Pete Wonicke, has fallen under Ruth’s spell. He is suspicious of the cops on the case and wants to help. He believes there is more to the story. But can he do anything? Will his determination lead to a different outcome for Ruth?

Alternate narrators reveal the story, as it swings back and forth, with the beginning showing Ruth on her “last day,” before everything changes…and then later, as she works in the prison library. How she got there becomes the meat of the story: A character study of one woman out of step with the norms in her neighborhood, set against the Old Boy network and those who would punish women like her.

As I read, I felt for Ruth, even as I could also see how the perceptions of others would be her downfall. Could anyone find out the truth? Or would her life be forever defined by one night in the summer of 1965? A final reveal does bring closure for this reader, but does nothing for Ruth’s future. A sad story with no happy ending. 4 stars.ratings-worms-4-cropped***

 

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One thought on “REVIEW: LITTLE DEATHS, BY EMMA FLINT

  1. Pingback: HUMP DAY READING: CURRENT, PAST, & FUTURE…. – RAINY DAYS AND MONDAYS

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