Killing God by Kevin Brooks
Penguin Books, 2009.
Recommended for libraries, senior students and those parents willing to read it. Dawn Bundy is a confused, lonely 15 year old hiding a traumatic secret. We guess it almost at the outset, but Dawn can't confront it and as a result, seeks refuge in her room, her music and her two dogs, Jesus and Mary. The dogs are ironically named because religion and the church can't help Dawn - in fact both get quite a serve here - and Dawn wants nothing less than to 'kill God.' Her born-again-Christian father hadn't changed his spots at all so Dawn wants to do away with God. Her drugged mother watches TV all day and her dad disappeared two years ago - 'all God's fault.' (blurb)
Needless to say, Dawn is wandering aimlessly until street smart Taylor and Mel from school barge into her house and life and take her in hand. We question their motives but they give Dawn a makeover to boost her self esteem. Dawn gains confidence but in the process has to confront her dark secret and Mel reveals she and Dawn have had a similar family issue. She warns Dawn of impending danger. It all leads to an explosive soap opera climax which is predictable but nonetheless gripping.
The strength of this book is the gift the author has for capturing the voice of Dawn in a stream-of-consciousness style. Convincing and believable, it is not only very readable but also able to perfectly portray Dawn's struggle to reconcile reason, religion and powerful conflicting emotions. Her self becomes divided in the process. Interspersed are snippets of Dawn's favourite lyrics which reflect her inner reality to herself. Her parents, by contrast, are more shadowy and less believable characters, but it is essentially Dawn's story.
As we see the world through Dawn's eyes we understand her difficulty in rejecting her parents whom she wants to love. The book brings shades of grey to what can be a black and white issue. It is a valuable insight into the mind of an abused child. Sadly, Dawn has no-one to turn to for help at home, school or church but this very likely reflects the reality for many. Set in England, this book travels well; however, the title and anti-religion stance may deter many.