REVIEW: Hardly Children, Laura Adamczyk

Monday, 24 December 2018

An eerie debut collection featuring missing parents, unrequited love, and other uncomfortable moments. A man hangs from the ceiling of an art gallery. A woman spells out messages to her sister using her own hair. Children deemed "bad" are stolen from their homes. In Hardly Children, Laura Adamczyk's rich and eccentric debut collection, familiar worlds--bars, hotel rooms, cities that could very well be our own--hum with uncanny dread. The characters in Hardly Children are keyed up, on the verge, full of desire. They're lost, they're in love with someone they shouldn't be, they're denying uncomfortable truths using sex or humor. They are children waking up to the threats of adulthood, and adults living with childlike abandon. With command, caution, and subtle terror, Adamczyk shapes a world where death and the possibility of loss always emerge. Yet the shape of this loss is never fully revealed. Instead, it looms in the periphery of these stories, like an uncomfortable scene viewed out of the corner of one's eye.

Laura Adamczyk’s Hardly Children is an uncomfortable, disquieting and rather unsettling collection of short stories that draws attention to how little time children are truly allowed to remain innocent, and how quickly we are pushed into the disturbing and terrifying world of adulthood. This collection blurs the line between what is real and what is imaginary, what is childish and what is adult. Its potential is limitless, but the actual book? It feels like a briefest glimpse at something that could be really special and the strongest thing about it is Laura Adamczyk’s narrative voice. Which means, even though Hardly Children failed to materialise into something lofty and startling and fabulous, I still have high hopes for Laura Adamczyk’s future work. She’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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