How to Carry Scars

Dana Green Kern­punkt Press (SEPTEM­BER) Soft­cover $14.99 (222pp), 978-0-9972924-8-0

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - MYA ALEXICE

Dana Green’s How to Carry Scars is a po­etic, in­tense med­i­ta­tion on what it means to be a daugh­ter in a dan­ger­ous, hurt­ful world.

This is the story of Olivia, a girl caught be­tween cir­cum­stances. An ob­ses­sion with pho­to­graphs con­sumed Olivia’s mother af­ter her fa­ther died years ago. In the present day, this leads to her ab­sence and ne­glect. Their mother-daugh­ter re­la­tion­ship is one of the most in­ter­est­ing as­pects of the novel—a sit­u­a­tion wrought with ten­sion and heart­break. While deal­ing with her home life, Olivia finds her­self at the cross­roads of a tu­mul­tuous ado­les­cence in­volv­ing vi­o­lence, pain, and in­tense re­la­tion­ships.

The novel is un­tra­di­tional in many ways. Laden with metaphors and or­nate prose, each suc­cinct chap­ter func­tions like a verse in an epic poem. Beau­ti­ful lines abound, like “I tried to teach my­self how to play gui­tar. Tried to let my fin­gers trace your fa­ther’s ghosts. Closed my eyes and sang into air.” Stun­ning lan­guage can be found on ev­ery page.

This is also where the novel fal­ters. Some lines just don’t sound like they would ac­tu­ally be spo­ken aloud by any­one in real life. Di­a­logue is star­tling, of­ten stilted or other­wise un­be­liev­able. The prose is some­times so flow­ery and wind­ing it be­comes dif­fi­cult to dis­cern be­tween metaphors and re­al­ity.

De­spite this, How to Carry Scars is a strong, pas­sion­ate emo­tional ride. Green’s prose is el­e­gant be­yond mea­sure, and the book’s in­ti­mate lan­guage trans­forms emo­tions into some­thing pal­pa­ble, relatable, and grip­ping.

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