What's In A Book? Everything Imaginable! The Plum Tree Book Forum
Cracks by Sheila Kohler
Publisher: Other Press
“Disturbing Layers of Teenage Obsession and Adult Abuse of Privilege”
I saw the film “Cracks” and out of curiosity decided to read the book and found it to be more deviated from the movie than expected. As in the above description, the setting is in South Africa and Fiamma is an Italian girl from an aristocratic family. As a teenager, she enrolls in an isolated school with other girls her age but has little in common with them, and with the aid of a favored but abusive teacher, the situation degenerates into bullying and finally tragedy.
What I found interesting is how the story crosses so many layers is human culture that culminates in the horrendous ending. Cultural differences with Fiamma being from Italy, class difference with her wealthy background, and the way aristocracy sees commoners in their eyes; Fiamma wasn’t interested in the other girls, though she intended no ill will. However, being beautiful, rich, well read, and an excellent swimmer, everyone had some level of obsession with Fiamma.
The swimming teacher, Miss G, was the favorite of the girls because she made them feel special. But when she found Fiamma more special than everyone else, it drew the ire of them all, despite of her known mental instability. Miss G abused her position as teacher by manipulating the girls, abusing Fiamma and the other teachers turned a blind eye to the obvious behavior.
Last, but not least, is the ultimate breakdown of humanity by bullying kids not understanding the consequences of their actions. In the “Lord of the Flies” moment, the girls showed they were little different from animals as they degenerated into teenage bullies ganging up on a girl made to be a pariah because of jealousy; to be punished only by their own guilt as they aged. The lack of accountability to society of the crime is disturbing and opens the bare truth that young people do terrible things with few good answers regarding rule of law.
Cracks is a mesmerizing read, a bit laborious and devastating. The book adds many more elements than the film. Four stars!
Reviewer: C.C. Cole
I’m C.C.Cole, award-winning author of the dark fantasy/action “Gastar” series, blogger, and book reviewer. Raised in rural Mississippi, I live in the suburbs there with my family. Interests other than writing include medieval and twentieth century history, martial arts, and adopted greyhounds. I’ve been a participant in the launch of Orangeberry books, a featured author in the book “Every Child is Entitled to Innocence,” by Niamh Clune. I’ve also written for The Writers Collection, a blog that is featured in the Westchester Guardian. Visit C.C. at her blog.