If you like to read fantasy, fairy tales and books that honestly address issues that child sexual abuse survivors face, then don’t miss Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan.
Loosely based on the Grimm’s fairytale, “Snow White and Rose Red” (which is NOT “Snow White” of Disney fame), this young adult novel is a home run for adult fantasy readers as well. You have to be a little tough to read the first few chapters which include a positive scene of sexual awakening and the not-so-graphic depiction of incest and rape.
But then, oh, my, Lanagan uses fantasy memes to explore both the saving grace and the limitations of dissociation. Now that is inspired.
Liga, the girl who is abused and later raped, escapes this damaging world by going into her own personal heaven–a safe, if limited, world of her imagining. There she raises two daughters, the very real children of sexual assault who are also the charming and loving sisters of the Grimm story.
The trouble with Liga’s dissociation from the world is that her children grow up, and they begin to differentiate themselves from Mom. It is through the crusty dwarf of the fairytale that her daughter Urrda enters the real world. Urrda eventually leads mother and sister across the amnestic barrier as well.
It is a hard adjustment to a place where people can be cruel as well as kind, which life is uncertain, where futures can be made and love truly felt. Lanagan has done a rare thing, mapping the emotional territory of dissociation and recovery as she tells a compelling fantasy.
You can read my full review for School Library journal at Amazon. But consider purchasing this book at one of your local independent bookstores. They need our support.