Thursday, December 17, 2015

You Can't See the Elephants by Keller

This is an issue driven story.  It focuses on child abuse and the tendency for  adults to look away, just not see, especially if the abuser is a respected community member as he is in this story.  Who can believe that he could do such things to his kids.  Mascha is stuck with her grandparents for the summer, out of her father's hair.  He is severely grieving the loss of his wife, to the point that he isn't there for his daughter and her needs.  Mascha is spending a lot of time sitting on a playground watching kids play.  Kids who refuse to allow her to join in.  This is where she meets Julia who is a bit strange and her even stranger  younger brother Max.  She wants to play running away, he fights invisible monsters and rarely speaks coherently.  Mascha goes to Julia's house after she hasn't seen her for several days and witnesses Max being severely beaten, Julia staring at a wall motionless, emotionless, Mother with a bruised face.  She tries to convince adults of the problem only to be warned off.  This is when she decides to rescue the kids by locking them in a small shack in the middle of a field nearby.  This proved to be wrong in many ways and hard on Max and Julia as well as many other folks.  It did, however, bring to attention that which the kids were enduring.  The reference to the elephants in the title is that they tend to stand still and stare emotionless when they are about to die.  This reads fast and I guess its an ok child abuse story, all the necessary elements in place, mean adults that look good on the surface, adults who care but won't risk their own character as one person did only to be sued.  Kids who act as abused kids often do and are afraid to seek help.  And, of course, a rescuerer.  Sometimes I think stories are too set up to feel natural, plausible though.
JDW 12/17

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