Earlier this month I read a book that had scenes in it of a paedophile grooming a young girl. They have haunted me since. I keep flashing back to one scene in particular that made me squirm. Even though I really enjoyed the book, there is part of me that wishes I hadn’t read it because I still don’t feel comfortable with what was written.
The other part of me though would still recommend the book – because it was well written and a good story. Without the uncomfortable scenes it wouldn’t have been the same book (and definitely not as good). My review mentioned that there were parts of the story that made me uncomfortable but I didn’t go further because it would have meant spoilers in the story. I am now wondering if I should go back and be more explicit?
I know other bloggers do this and I have to say this has put me off some books, books which I think I might actually have enjoyed and I wondered what others thought about “warnings”?. It’s a fine line I suppose, because we all have personal red lines, ones we don’t or won’t cross when reading books or watching TV.
Based on comments on some of my recent reviews, where there seems to have been a bit of a glut of books with missing children or children in danger, that seems to be a red line for a lot of parents (or at least parents of younger children). They can too easily put themselves in the place of the central characters, imagine their own children missing. Yet, as a parent myself, I can’t say I have that reaction.
For me, rape is a difficult one to read about. When it’s mentioned in a blurb or review I tend to steer clear. But then I read He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly not so long ago, where rape – and it’s aftermath – was the driver for the story and I was o.k. As with the book I read recently, He Said / She Said was well written and thought provoking as well as a great story that kept me wondering where the truth lay right till the last.
I’ve also found that I can no longer read books which portray violent or graphic scenes anymore (something I never batted an eye at a few years ago). I used to be a big fan of the Graham Masterton Katie Maguire series, for example, but the fact that there always seemed to be at least one (and generally more) gruesome deaths – described in quite a lot of detail – meant I’ve had to stop reading them.
The problem is, how to do you know unless you read a book? But if you do read it and your reaction to it is negative, have you done yourself any favours – especially if, like me, books stay with you for a while? What are your thoughts – do you have reading red lines, and what are they? And would you prefer to know more or less about whether there might be something upsetting in a book?
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