I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Black Chalk by Albert Alla
Published by Garnet Publishing on August 1st 2013
Source: the Publisher
In the Oxfordshire countryside, a student walks into a classroom and starts shooting. Nate Dillingham, friends with shooter and victims alike, is the sole survivor and only witness. Easily led and eager to please, his recollections weave around others’ hopes until he loses track of what really happened that day. After eight evasive years on the road, he comes back to Oxford, meets Leona, and plunges into a world of candour and desire. But Nate’s defences are deteriorating and Leona shares too much of his past…
An unsettling tale of passion and guilt, Black Chalk is an edgy journey into twenty-first century morality.
“Each memory came innocent and left tainted. And once tainted, memories grew persistent. Their stench remained and coloured other thoughts, so that, like an infection, I was soon left with nothing but tainted memories”
I had to let this book sink in a little bit before writing my review. It was, as you can probably imagine, a heavy book to read. This book tackles such a difficult subject and it took me longer to read than I normally do. There where times that I just had to put the book down, put it down and continue reading the next day.
This book is told from the First Person Narrative, we get to know everything through a first hand account from the only survivor of the shooting: Nate. Even though this story is told from his point of view, I felt as if the story was being told by a somewhat distant observer. You know the main character is struggling, but the emotions you’d expect after being through what he has been through seem to take a backseat. He tried to leave in order to leave his problems behind, the major issue being that isn’t really dealing with his emotions the way he should be dealing with them. Because when he returns, all these feelings that he thought he left behind resurface and that’s bound to go wrong sometime. It left me, as a reader, with this sense of dread throughout the reading process.
What exactly happened in that classroom never really becomes clear until the last few chapters. Within those chapters it also becomes clear how much the main character detests himself for the things he did, and for the things he didn’t do. It was just such a strange experience to read this book through the eyes of somebody that suffers a terrible emotional trauma and hates himself, while I as a reader sympathize with him.
This story was just so raw, and realistic. As Nate becomes more unstable nearing the end of the book, I realized that the sense of dread that started forming about halfway in the book was rightly forming. This book was somewhat disturbing and shocking, and so amazingly well-written. I wish more people would attempt to read it, because this is a book that truly deserves some more attention!