Title: Still Missing
Author: Beth Gutcheon
Genre/Themes/Content Warning: Drama, Mystery, Kidnapping, Homophobic slurs, Ableist slurs, Paedophilia, Rape
Blurb from Goodreads
Alex Selky, going on seven, kissed his mother goodbye and set off for school, a mere two blocks away.
He never made it.
Desperate to find him, his mother begins a vigil that lasts for days, then weeks, then months.
She is treated first as a tragic figure, then as a grief-crazed hysteric, then as a reminder of the bad fortune that can befall us all. Against all hope, despite false leads and the desertions of her friends and allies she believes with all her heart that somehow, somewhere, Alex will be found alive.
Beth Gutcheon builds a heartrending suspense that culminates in a climax you will never forget.
This book has filled me with all sorts of mixed emotions.
Initially I found it to be quite problematic because two of the characters early on in the book made homophobic comments using slurs and implied a link between homosexuality and paedophilia and I was appalled and then incredibly conflicted. Because I think it’s somewhat important to take the context of when the book was written into account and initially this was published in 1981 and homophobia was sadly the prevailing viewpoint.
And then I got even angrier because a gay character was portrayed in a very negatively sexualised manner and was then heavily implied to be involved in wrongdoing.
BUT THEN THE BOOK WENT AND SHOOK ME RIGHT UP!
Because it turned all that homophobia on its head and talked about the need for gay rights, positive gay stories in the media etc. It had actually used the problematic slurs to create a believable atmosphere of hatred and then it became key to moving the plot forward.
And I was back thinking ooh crafty trick there, you hook the homophobic reader and then BOOM slap them with an equality wake up call….
So I’m all mixed up. I definitely don’t like the use of homophobic slurs, I definitely don’t like the portrayal of the one gay character in the book… But I very much appreciated the ultimate aims of the author…
I guess if there hadn’t been repeated use of a disableist slur I might have fully come around to the aims of the author….
But again. Context. Published in 1981… Things were different then.
See this is hard isn’t it.
Am I reading this with a sort of informed hindsight because it’s 2019??? And therefore I should excuse words and phrases common to the time period???
Or am I just like no. You should never have said that because that word always was meant in a derogatory fashion?????
But then it’s characters saying these words and not the author and well written characters are like real people in that they are flawed, they say awful things….
SO I AM CONFLICTED!!!
Good points about the book….
and they definitely outweigh the negative…
It was fantastically well written. Thoroughly engaging plot.
Characters that felt quite visceral, very warts and all type characters really…
And the emotional impact of Susan’s reactions and feelings regarding everything surrounding her missing child was keenly felt. The book perfectly portrayed her trauma and the craziness of everything going on around her complete with supportive friends, crappy friends, guilt tripping family, friends and strangers… Was utterly engaging and devastatingly harrowing.
A compelling read