Such Small Hands might be one of the most bizarre books I have read this year.

The reviews on the back of this book by Spanish writer Andres Barba ($22.95, Publishers Group Canada , Transit Books) call it a masterpiece and suggests Barba is an impressive writer who created a perfect “terrifying” world that “casts light on our darkest feelings”.

In light of that, this type of novel might not be for me.

I stopped reading the book several times in order to re-read the description (Life changes at the orphanage the day seven-year-old Marina shows up. As she tries to find her place, she creates a game whose rules are dictated by a haunting violence. In hypnotic, lyrical prose, Barba evokes the pain of loss and the hunger for acceptance), wondering if I misread what the book was about. I didn’t.

I suppose then I just don’t get it, or its purpose, although I am sure high school English teachers will love it and assign its reading to their students, followed by homework on why this book is so important and what the author was trying to say.

Did Barba create a “whole new reality?” Yes, I suppose he did.

Was it “terrifying?”

Oh yes. It is terrifying that adults, particularly those skilled in health and wellness – doctors, physiologists, orphanage professionals – didn’t see what was happening to Marina, and the children around her.

A copy was provided by PGC for an honest review.

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