Small Animals Caught in Traps, by C.B. Bernard

If you feel like spiraling down a dark hole of despair and depression, while watching nearly every major character die—even those that came before the story started and even those that aren’t even human—do I have the book for you!  But perhaps I lead you astray by saying “depression.”  Small Animals Caught in Traps is more for the “wallower” in us.  For me, “wallowing” means exploring dark thoughts and feelings, whereas “depression” means being swallowed by them.  So if you feel like exploring a childhood that was unkind and an adulthood where the unkind things just keep on coming…do I have a book for you!

Unfortunately, for many of us, we don’t have to imagine what an unkind childhood might feel like, which is why I must leave a warning here.  What I find unique about Bernard’s novel, however, is that instead of focusing on the horror of child abuse, the story centers itself on our adult survivor and protagonist, Lewis.  Lewis, like many of us who get real quiet when asked about our childhoods, struggles to feel as if he deserves the happiness he’s found with a wife and daughter.  Struggles to feel as if he belongs in a world that others seem to navigate so easily.  And in all of his struggles, threatens to lose everything in his adulthood that he so longed for as a child.

Read Small Animals Caught in Traps for the beauty the author infuses into a story soaked in cruelty and grief.  The descriptions of the river and how Lewis feels when he fishes are easily worth the whole book.  Read the book also to appreciate how deftly the author moves from one POV to another in a way that reflects the reality of everyone’s different, but shared, experiences.  And DON’T read the book for the at least one unforgiveable plot line decision you’ll find about half way through—no spoilers, so message me when you find it so we can vent together!

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