Touchedby Scott Campbell
Robbie Young is an ordinary twelve-year-old boy about to drop a bombshell that will devastate his small town family. One day he rides his bike home after school, finds his mother in the kitchen making dinner, and speaks aloud the secret he's been keeping for a year, "Jerry Houseman's been touching me." Robbie has been molested and the Young family will never be the same. From that moment on, the novel unfolds with inexorable power. The story is narrated in four parts: first by Robbie's mother, then by Jerry Houseman himself, then by Houseman's wife Linda, and concluded by Robbie himself fifteen years later, when he has returned to town for a high school reunion. Each voice is remarkably persuasive and utterly convincing, and the result is a novel that is impossible to put down as it is impossible to forget.
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 steadybut 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.
- Random House Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.83(w) x 8.58(h) x 1.06(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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Brilliant. Raw. Honest. Heartbreaking. Worth reading.
This novel proves that there is always more than one side to each story. The four people involved in the telling of that story are emotional and powerful. This story gave light to victims of molestation. At least it have light to me.
Couldn't keep me interested...
At times the details of "what happened" were difficult to read, but this was very well-written and real.
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.
I knew that.