Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato is a story of mental illness so severe that even love and medication cannot prevail. It is a story of grief that makes a person forget all the rules that humans should heed. And it is story of parenting both neglectful and obsessed; the story of a boy so small and pale he seems to have been born an albino child; a child so dependent on his grandmother, Florence, that when she dies he is too bereft to heed the protective advice routinely offered to children.- “never speak to strangers.”
Lodato’s novel is well-written, but I was torn. The plot itself is not quite as formulaic as it might seem. This kept me reading. And clearly we cannot spend too much time thinking about the issues that arise from mental illness and our less-than-successful treatments and enabling behaviors. The rights of an individual to freedom are set against the chaos that comes with untreated serious mental illness, a set of circumstances which offers the mentally ill both a sort of dignity and the potential to destroy the balance of more than one life. Lodato makes us hope that we come up with better answers in the future. This issue that continues to challenge us all is a frustrating, but is also a rewarding thread in this book.
What I found hardest to take was the bad parenting the reader encounters in this story. Sadly, it is a fact that bad parenting is a common topic in modern literature. What happens to children when parenting is absent or inappropriate is heartbreaking and, although it probably reflects accurately on what is really the case (and not only in these times), I wish I could believe that exposure leads to improvement and that we get parenting right in the majority of families, however unorthodox the family might be. However, I have sincere doubts that such optimism is valid.
There are plot twists in Lodato’s novel that I cannot discuss. The author uses internal cues to make us think that things will come out one way, while the outcomes are actually less predictable. This should be a good thing but ends up being a bit creepy in ways I cannot specify as I don’t want to interfere with letting readers judge this aspect of the novel as they read. It bothered me; it might not bother another reader. I am concluding with a belief that those who read Edgar and Lucy by Peter Lodato will find in this novel an almost constant stream of personal emotional reactions. While it is a good read; it does not make it onto my list of favorites.