P. K. Lynch: Armadillos

Synopsis:

Aggie is fifteen, a ‘sub’ from a ‘sub’ family, one of Texas’ downtrodden. Her father and brother enact that ‘sub’-ness on her, week in, week out. She has only the vaguest notion that there is something wrong with the abuse she endures and instead dreams of the outside world.

And then one day, Aggie walks out, and like the armadillos that flourish in Texas’ barren landscape, she is a survivor…

In her escape, she gravitates to those who are just as maltreated as her. They offer Aggie the sense of family, albeit a thoroughly dysfunctional one, that she’s been searching for. But when she gets embroiled in a crisis involving stolen money, Aggie soon realises there are some problems you can’t run away from.

Review:

I picked up Armadillos as the synopsis really drew me in and I believed that the novel would shine a light on abuse within domestic situations and provide a strong, hard-hitting narrative that would leave me reeling in my thoughts. Though this is not the case, I felt that the novel had some good points but overall believed that it could have been portrayed a lot better.

From the offset, it becomes clear that there is some form of sexual abuse taking place within Aggie’s domestic life. However, Lynch chooses to use Aggie’s childishness to put this across with the more simplistic language almost skirting the truth due to Aggie’s inability to comprehend fully that something isn’t right in the way that she lives. I loved this concept as you truly feel connected with the character in this respect, and there is a dread that falls over the language in the beginning at the thought of her having to go through with these acts.

One thing I felt about the beginning is that it was rushed – there really wasn’t that much development between the introduction of the premise and Aggie running away from home and later on within the novel I felt like the abuse held little sway in the way she was then living her life. After running away, Aggie barely comments on the abuse she experienced at home until the last few chapters of the book which I felt let down the narrative and could have made it stronger. For one, she could have felt more wary around other men considering she is living on the streets and would question the motives of other men if that was all that she had lived with her entire life.

It is clear that the character of Aggie does develop and at an exceptionally fast pace. Within pages of her having run away from home, her language switches from childish to mature – she begins to swear and start analysing her surroundings and the motives she has for doing what she does. Maybe if this had been implemented at the beginning during her childish, unaware phase her running away would not feel so rushed and unwarranted and would hold more meaning in the overall progression of the novel. Nevertheless, Aggie frequently reminisces on memories from her childhood which shows that her running away really was spur of the moment and an event that she hadn’t truly thought through as she always seems to miss home and her sister.

I felt like the ending was a good round up to the novel and presented a wholly unexpected twist that is very well implemented within the storyline. However, I felt overall that the character and her issues weren’t truly resolved – though I do believe that that was meant to be the case to reflect that she is and still will be living on the streets to get away from a life she did not want to continue living.

Overall I found this book good, but it didn’t bowl me over. Lynch could have portrayed the premise of the novel a lot better with more harrowing, dread-filled scenes that would bring a more serious tone to the novel. I would’ve preferred to feel these emotions having finished the book instead of the sense that things were left incomplete.

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