BOOK REVIEW: My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
Publisher: Gallery Saga Press
Synopsis“Some girls just don’t know how to die…”
Shirley Jackson meets Friday the 13th in My Heart Is a Chainsaw, written by the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians Stephen Graham Jones, called “a literary master” by National Book Award winner Tananarive Due and “one of our most talented living writers” by Tommy Orange.
Alma Katsu calls My Heart Is a Chainsaw “a homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre.” On the surface is a story of murder in small-town America. But beneath is its beating heart: a biting critique of American colonialism, Indigenous displacement, and gentrification, and a heartbreaking portrait of a broken young girl who uses horror movies to cope with the horror of her own life.
Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.
If you are an 80's movie horror fan then this is the book for you. As Jade lives her life in a constant slasher existence. She writes about them for history and she knows that something is bound to happen in her small sleepy town. However, Jade has a secret, a home life that is anything but stable, her father a washed up high school star now the town drunk reliving his glory days with his friends. Her mother is gone working at the local dollar store, and doesn't see much of Jade. The person Jade confides in the most is her history teacher who she writes elaborate and insightful papers comparing slasher movies.
While some will only see the slasher movie part to this book it is much deeper. Dwelling on the rights of Native people, the way in which the rich move in and engulf a town not really caring about the people who are already living there and the pain of a young girl crying out for help and no one listening.
In some aspects it reminds me of Grady Hendrix Final Girls Support Group which is also a bow to the 80's slasher movies, but while that novel has humor this has a darker more ominous overtone.
Excellent character development and a uniquely told story.
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