A friend from work gave me a stack of books to read when I complained recently about not having anything to read. This complaint wasn’t actually true, but I was in a reading rut and nothing looked good at the time so she brought me some of her favorites.
Holy crap, she reads the most messed up books ever.
I lean more toward young adult literature because of my students, rom-com summer reads because they’re completely ridiculous and light, or the occasional mystery/thriller. But this girl likes to read wicked stuff and she’s got me hooked.
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock follows ten or so characters through their lives: their choices, their surroundings, and how their paths cross. Set in the backward, backwoods of Ohio, there’s an animal-sacraficing husband trying to save his dying wife, a pedophile minister, a dirty, murdering cop, a serial-killer couple who like to photograph their victims and more. This book is full of the lowest of low. It’s a train wreck that doesn’t stop and I couldn’t put it down.
Pollock’s writing reminds me of Flannery O’Connor: taking average, middle America and showing its shadows and demons. He writes with such objectivity that you don’t hate all the characters either. At times I could sympathize with some of them. I could feel their conflict and understand their choices. And that’s a weird thing to say as you learn what these people do.
Need a stay-up-all-night-because-you-can’t-believe-what-you’re-reading book? Then The Devil All the Time is for you.