Review: The Wisdom of Perversity by Rafael Yglesias


Title: The Wisdom of Perversity

Author: Rafael Yglesias

Published: Algonquin Books March 2015

Status: Read from March 23 to 25, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

In The Wisdom of Perversity, Rafael Yglesias tells the story of three childhood friends, reluctantly reunited as adults when the man who sexually abused them more than three decades earlier is finally exposed as a predator, yet seems likely to get away with it.

What Yglesias does well in The Wisdom of Perversity is illustrate the lingering feelings of shame and helplessness victims of abuse carry into adulthood. Despite their best efforts to move past the emotional trauma associated with Stein the memory never fades, ambushing them in their weakest moments. Yglesias also challenges the idea that one type of abuse is better or worse than another. Though Brian was ‘only diddled’ and Jeff was anally raped, their suffering all these years later is indistinguishable, it’s clear it is not so much about the physical act but the emotional repercussions.

Steins predatory nature is truly horrifying. He seduces the parents of his victims with bonhomie and largesse, so that the children feel unable to seek their help. The scene in which he abuses Julie while in the midst a roomful of adults, was incredibly distressing to read, and the powerlessness of the children is heartbreaking.

Unfortunately I didn’t relate to any of the characters as adults, though I was sympathetic to them. Brian is a successful screenwriter with intimacy issues, Julie is a unhappily married library archivist with a teenage son, and Jeff, on his third marriage, is a famous film director. Exposing Stein has the potential to devastate their personal and professional lives.

Said to be inspired by the molestation Yglesias suffered at age 8, The Wisdom of Perversity is a challenging read, especially in terms of the subject matter, but ends on a surprisingly hopeful note.

Available to Purchase From

Algonquin Books I Amazon US I BookDepository I IndieBound

Via Booko

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