Little Peach by Peggy Kern

It might sound weird, but I think of peaches as a hopeful fruit. Those juicy little gems that show up for just a few short months in my cold, snow filled world. They’re the symbol of summer and sunshine. Hope and happiness and warmth. Little Peach is anything but hopeful. It is heartbreaking. From the first page to the last, summer heat and childhood are converted from playful innocence to absolute darkness.

Michelle is a young teen who’s lost the only person in her life that might have been able to save her. Once her grandfather dies, she’s left to fend for herself in a house with a mother who actively dislikes her. This is not a distracted mother. This is a legit terrible person. When she finds out her boyfriend has been molesting her child, she blames Michelle and kicks her out of the house. She has so little self-worth (possibly socially reinforced by the way she grew up – we don’t know if this is a systemic issue) that she is scared her fourteen year old is luring her grown adult boyfriend away from her. Even if – and come on, really let’s not even go there -but even if Michelle had flirted with him, who would want the kind of grown man says yeah, this child is the thing I want. Never okay. Ever.

So Michelle sets out looking for a new future with a name and half an address. And she meets a nice woman who tries to help her, but her distrust and fear is so deep she flees in panic. Right into the arms of the man (boy?) who will break her down as far as he can. I knew nothing about this book before I started reading it. I was doing the audiobook, so all I knew was it was short and the reviews I’d glanced at said it was gut wrenching. So I wasn’t sure where we were going. At first, Devon seems like a pretty decent guy. He doesn’t pressure her. He gets her food. He knows where she wants to go and no one else she’s asked has been able to do that. Devon is Michelle’s shining light in this giant city. And he doesn’t look like the people she’s been taught to fear. He’s not a junkie or a flashy tv pimp. He looks safe. He has options. He’s endearing. He cares enough to nickname her Peach. No wonder she goes with him.   Continue reading