One late autumn evening in a Texas town, two strangers walk into an ice cream shop shortly before closing time. They bind up the three teenage girls who are working the counter, set fire to the shop, and disappear. See How Small tells the stories of the survivors - family, witnesses, and suspects - who must endure in the wake of atrocity. Justice remains elusive in their world, human connection tenuous.
Hovering above the aftermath of their deaths are the three girls. They watch over the town and make occasional visitations, trying to connect with and prod to life those they left behind. "See how small a thing it is that keeps us apart," they say. A master of compression and lyrical precision, Scott Blackwood has surpassed himself with this haunting, beautiful, and enormously powerful new novel.
©2014 Scott Blackwood (P)2014 Hachette Audio
"Scott Blackwood is a wizard, and in See How Small he puts his skills to dazzling use as he anatomizes a town and a crime. Best of all is the deep empathy he brings to his characters, innocent and guilty, wise and confused; all of them are given the grace of his understanding. A vivid and astonishing novel." (Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy)
"Horrible deaths of the innocent, and the various means and tactics by which the living manage to go on in the aftermath of unsolved horror, form the heart of Scott Blackwood's haunted and haunting novel, See How Small. His prose is crisp and his narrative approach is fresh and inventive, calmly pushing forward, with characters rendered so convincingly you think about sending cards of condolence or calling with advice on the investigation." (Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone and The Maid's Version)
"Acute and nimble stories... so honest as they capture the dapple of emotions and perceptions that cross the mind like sunlight and shadow on a river... an impressive, accomplished debut." (Julie Grey, New York Times Book Review)
I picked this book because it was an Amazon pick of the month, but I really didn't enjoy it. I'm not sure if it would be better to read the book, rather than listen, but I couldn't follow. I was constantly rewinding to figure out what was going on.
The story follows multiple characters and when the story switches to follow another character, it's hard to tell. Some characters don't even make sense. The writing sounded pretty, but the content was lacking.
I was expecting more of a true crime type account of the Austin yogurt shop murders, but that's probably my fault for not understanding the nature of the book. I bought it based on a short blurb I read in People magazine in a doctor's office, and the magazine indicated that the book was "about the Austin yogurt shop murders."
While I usually enjoy the multiple, interwoven storyline format, I found this book confusing and disjointed. I didn't understand why the reporter character was necessary to the story at all, and many of the details in each character's storyline ended up being superfluous and irrelevant. Perhaps this read better as a book, but on audio, I found myself continually having to rewind and listen again because I was confused. By contrast, I did not have this issue with other similarly structured books like Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train.
poignant, nostalgia, loss
Rengin is a wonderful reader. She has a lyrical, emotive, yet even voice.
I did cry. The book brought back many memories for me of life in Austin, Tx in the 90s. The yogurt shop murders were such a shock to the whole town. Austin, Tx suffered diminished innocence during that time. It was the start of Austin becoming a city and less of a town.
Scott Blackwood grounds the story of loss and trauma through the details of everyday life. He reminds us that despite dramatic event in our lives, we must find a way to keep living and dealing with the minutiae of parenting and everyday life, to keep showing up for our loved ones who are still alive and our loved ones who have passed. "See how small a thing it is that keeps us apart."
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