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Touched
     

Touched

4.0 6
by Scott Campbell
 

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It begins when 12-year-old Robbie Young comes home from the mall one late afternoon to tell his mother the secret he's been keeping for a year: "Jerry Houseman's been touching me". In the tradition of "Ordinary People" and "The Good Mother", here is a powerful and moving novel of a family shattered by crisis, a book which marks the debut of a brilliant new voice

Overview

It begins when 12-year-old Robbie Young comes home from the mall one late afternoon to tell his mother the secret he's been keeping for a year: "Jerry Houseman's been touching me". In the tradition of "Ordinary People" and "The Good Mother", here is a powerful and moving novel of a family shattered by crisis, a book which marks the debut of a brilliant new voice in contemporary fiction.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Honest, unpretentious prose characterizes this first novel about a case of criminal sexual misconduct and two families in crisis. In the opening chapter, set in 1980, Linda Young, 33, who lives in a "friendly, safe" neighborhood in Jackson, Mich., describes the moment when her 12-year-old son, Robbie, drops "his bomb": "Jerry Houseman's been touching me." Robbie says the abuse has been going on for "a while," which stretches into a few months, then a year. Jerry, a neighbor with three daughters, has been showering Robbie with gifts, treating him like a surrogate son-or so Linda has assumed. Robbie begs his mother not to tell anyone, but she and her husband call the police. Campbell delivers the story of Jerry's arrest, trial and the aftermath, from four points of view. They include Linda's unabashedly angry account, Jerry's detached and sentimental narration and a poignant portrait by Jerry's wife, Jeanette, of her husband, who has been previously attracted to young boys. The final and most convincing voice, that of Robbie as a young adult, gets to the heart of the boy's turmoil. Readers must wade past some superficial narrative here, but they'll find that, through Jeanette and Robbie, Campbell accomplishes the formidable task of illuminating the complex feelings and issues that confront his seemingly ordinary people. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Campbell is right on target in this first novel, which takes a close look at child sexual abuse. Robbie Young seems like a typical, healthy 12-year-old until the day he tells his mother, "Jerry Houseman's been touching me." From that point his life spins out of control. Jerry is arrested, Robbie testifies in court, and Jerry is sentenced to ten years in prison. Robbie's story develops layer by layer as the incident is recounted, first by Robbie's mother, then by Jerry, Jerry's wife, and finally Robbie himself. Each player brings a different perspective to the story as each looks at the sequence of events, analyzes motives, responds to emotions, and assigns guilt. Unfortunately, no one considers the child. Campbell treats an emotional topic with calm intelligence, looking at the ramifications of each player's actions and following the incident to its logical conclusion. Recommended for most fiction collections.-Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Kirkus Reviews
A cunningly constructed if didactic debut that probes under a big issue—how parents and the justice system deal with a boy "touched" by a neighborhood child molester.

Opening in the voice of Linda, the guilt-stricken mother of the molested boy, Robbie, the novel at first seems destined to be a mediocre Movie-of-the-Week vehicle. But the Betty Crocker mold soon breaks when we discover that Linda can't think of the neighbor, Jerry, touching Robbie without feeling her own secret lover's hand. Soon we're seeing how the flaws of a marriage seed the crime. Pregnant and married to Ken when she was 16, Linda thinks of herself as selfless, yet she pursues an affair during the hours when she should be supervising Robbie. Ken calls himself responsible because he's calm and steady—but he's an utterly remote husband and father. And Robbie's older brother, Danny, thinks he's doing his duty when he attacks Jerry in front of the neighbors, just as Linda's angry guilt drives her to scream "Child molester!" to the world and then press for Jerry's arrest, regardless of what might be best for Robbie. The core of the story is a portrait of Jerry and his wife, Jeanette: a couple with three daughters and a seemingly balanced life. Jerry's arrest reveals a man who can't help what he is, and a woman who discovers that forgiveness and unconditional love aren't enough. When Jerry pleads guilty rather than see Robbie cross-examined, Jeanette realizes that Jerry's love for the boy is actually, in a twisted way, truer than anything he feels for her.

Commercial but with literary pretensions, this is a work flawed, ironically, by a writer exercising too much control and calculation on his material and by occasional lecturing. These are flaws, though, more than counterbalanced by Campbell's unconventional treatment of a subject that is usually a springboard for cheap melodrama.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780553378221
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/28/1997
Pages:
324
Sales rank:
1,384,681
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)

Meet the Author

Scott Campbell (Scott C.) is a maker of paintings, illustrations, comics, children’s books, and videogames. At Double Fine Productions, he art directed the critically acclaimed videogames Brutal Legend and Psychonauts. His paintings have been featured in galleries around the world, including Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, Galerie Arludik in Paris, and the London Miles Gallery. He lives and works in New York City.

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Touched 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brilliant. Raw. Honest. Heartbreaking. Worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't keep me interested...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At times the details of "what happened" were difficult to read, but this was very well-written and real.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Scott Campbell delivers a touching, sensitive and well-written novel about life, people, and what it takes to love someone sometimes. And loving someone well, often times, is not always enough. Meet Jerry Houseman: loving and doting father, attentive and supportive husband, and sexual compulsive. See, Jerry falls in love with little boys. Deep, confusing, and often tragic love...with boys barely 12. He thought he could combat these feelings after that first time in the war, with an asian prostitute...but those dark desires returned and invaded his home, his life, and eventually, tore his family apart. Told from four differing points of view, Campbell brings us 'Touched', the story of Houseman and his family, the effects of his compulsion on his family, the family of the boy he is accused of molesting, and on Houseman as well. The reader is allowed a peek into the mind of a man compelled, almost against his will, it seems, to love boys. Campbell effectively writes his narratives in believable voices with wholly believable storylines. Not recommended for the morally faint, 'Touched' is a book that everyone should read, if only for the sensitive and open-minded portrayal of lives on the edge of destruction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I knew that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ashley!