Sunday, November 24, 2013

She Looks Pale, by Kate Rigby

Hannah had meningitis early in her childhood.  Her mother noticed her pale, sickly complexion, but by the time she took Hannah to see a doctor, the meningitis was so sever, Hannah nearly died.  As a result, her parents have become increasingly protective of her with every passing year.  At some point, the fear of Hannah's sickness becomes a sickness in an of itself for her mother.

I thought this story was haunting, and in many ways it reminded my of The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.  Hannah is portrayed as this wounded, fragile creature that must be protected at all costs due to a legitimate health problem.  But the fear of illness, the need to protect, and the need to isolate Hannah becomes an obsession for her mother.  We see Hannah forced into a much sicker, weaker state as a result of this smothering need to protect.

Written in Hannah's first person narrative voice, the tale, though brief, is heartbreaking.  We feel intimately connected to Hannah, and it hurts that we can see better than she what is happening to her.  The writing, though simple, is evocative of fairly sophisticated emotions.  Do not let the brevity of the story fool you; there is a lot going on here.

This book is from my personal library and I wrote an honest review of my own volition.

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