An incredibly disturbing story of a pedophile, his codependent addict lover, and the object of their obsession: Rachel. Beautiful, artistic, intelligent, and kind... Rachel is an "angel"... and she's nine years old. She's used to getting attention from men, especially the customer's at the bar where he mother performs. Rachel is poor but satisfied. She has friends, a mother, and a landlord who cares for her. (This landlord may even care for her a little too much, as one character witnesses landlord molesting Rachel.) The story centers around the obsession everyday people have for Rachel. Women wonder if she's related to her homely mother. Men give her a lot of attention and affection. Rachel is oblivious to any sort of pervy-ness. Will her abduction change her? The resolution is surprising.
The story is a mix of the past and present. We learn a little about her mother's life, what potential she had until a one-night stand with a college student from NYC. We also learn about the pedophile's dysfunctional life: dead mother, distant father, young lover. Pedophile's first sexual encounter is disgusting, and yet brilliantly constructed by Gowdy. Both the past and the present are absolutely chilling!!!
That these characters rely on psychic premonitions is superb. They all look so pathetic, especially the addict who clutches her "psychic pouch" in hopes of holding on to her worthless boyfriend. We see mother and landlord clinging to their psychic visions in hopes of finding Rachel.
We're left to make our own judgments about the mother, mostly through dialogues with a talk show host and callers. Is her mother "bad' for not maintaining relations with Rachel's father? Was their one-night stand, the result of which is Rachel, so horrible? And what about the thoughts of the pedophile? He actually believes he is doing the right thing by kidnapping Rachel. He sees the mother as "bad" for taking Rachel to bars, allowing her to touch men, leaving her with a pervy (?) landlord, etc. Although kidnapping and pedophilia are foul, is the pedohpile correct in his assessment of the mother? Gowdy gives us many things to think about.
Oh yes, this book is warped. And that's what made it so interesting to read. Gowdy does not tie up loose ends with a pretty bow. You are left to wonder what exactly happened to all of the characters. And you want more, but, all good books must come to an end. Sadly, because I wanted to know more about Rachel. And the pedophile and his girlfriend. I wanted to know if the landlord was really a child molester and if he really was gay. I wanted to know every little detail about every character; they were like a bunch of really twisted, pathetic new friends.