Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Review: Cage Life, by Karin Cox

Cage Life, by Karin Cox, is a surprising and beautifully written book comprised of two short stories; the first story takes you into the mind of a young mom who feels like a prisoner in her own home and the second centers around 80-something Basil and the results of his love for a younger woman. It only took me an hour to read the entire book, which I received as a review copy via Smashwords.

I'll admit that at first I didn't know if I would be able to finish the book. The subject matter was almost too adult and definitely too dark. The first story, Cage Life, reminded me of a very dark period in my own life, though the details are completely different. Karin's poetic use of words kept me reading. As I savored the vivid prose and admired the images that she so adeptly painted in my imagination, I was pulled into the story. As the main character grew from girl to young mom, I felt her angst, love, and pain. I still can't say that I liked the story—partly due to the fact that I'm a (not so young) new mom myself—but I do respect it for its portrayal of unintended consequences.

The second story, The Usurper, again challenged my morals. Basil wakes, knowing that "it had happened again." We discover the definition of "it" few pages later as Basil contemplates the fate of an octogenarian at the hands of a much younger mistress in a surprising view of elder abuse. I can't go into detail without giving too much away, but this was the story that made me love the book. The ending contains one of my favorite story elements: in a surprise "aha" moment, reality shifts and the reader suddenly views the story in a completely different way. I wanted to give a standing ovation.

Though I am more apt to read for either entertainment or learning, it is good to be challanged to step out of my comfort zone. I plan to look into Karin's Austrailian wildlife books for my son.

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