“Sometimes mommies just have to do the right thing, no matter how hard it is. This is one of those.”
– Perdie, Idle Hands
What if? What if? What if? There’s a captivating premise in these pages suggesting that there’s always another choice, another path, be it fall from grace, or rise forever singed from the flames we climbed through.
“One of humanity’s greatest evolutionary features is your adaptability, your nimbleness, your flexibility. Ironically, the more control you gain over your environment, the more protections you create, the more brittle and intractable you become.”
– Ella, Idle Hands
Meet Ella, our narrator. This dry witted voice is literally the devil’s advocate. She watches humanity for every one of those burning openings. Ella is bored by straight up evil, preferring to spend her time on lonely and confused minds, spinning our penchant for self absorption into threads of delicious, tasty chaos. In this case her target is Perdie, our relatable mother-of-three main character, who is unfortunately steeped in an impossible web of domestic violence. Dare I say it, this is where it gets horrifyingly captivating.
Idle Hands isn’t my usual genre. I tend to read for escape, knowing that the events are far from real. There was no escaping the foe of this story, not for me, nor Perdie and her impressionable kids. First up, in case you haven’t guessed, I’m going to put a trigger warning on this book for bracingly vivid domestic abuse. We live it with them, blow for blow and it was a difficult discussion to have with those pages at times, yet I never dreamed of setting it down, only seeing them through it.
“The words sounded hollow falling from her lips, striking the floor of the minivan, bouncing tiredly before rolling out of reach under the seats.’
— Idle Hands
The balances of light and dark run like tides in this. Moments of gorgeous word play let us breathe during the hardest moments. We may hate the foe, but we love the devil. You heard that right! Ella, isn’t the antagonist. She just likes her work to go a certain way — filled with the right colours don’t you know? We don’t begrudge her the way she is, nor do we judge Perdie for her difficult choices. There’s no frustrated yelling at the cover like you might expect in such a story, instead every second of this book is written in a way that drags us along, nodding sadly, letting us make each soul destroying choice with the characters. Beauty is found in their formidable strength, which pours through the pages over and over, showing how no one person is ever one thing, including broken.
What does that leave us with? A fast paced and unique twist showing what would happen if we could see both ways. Varying viewpoints, a narrator who understands more about the world than we do, and an ending which isn’t dancing in the rain, yet bangs closure like a drum so even my escapism heart can look back and feel the right of that story arc.
Should you read it? YES! I’m lucky. I haven’t faced such horror in real life, but every emotion and anguish Windwalker detailed within this story left me with a far better understanding of just how impossibly trapped these victims truly are. Hard topics need to be shared for that reason. Windwalker left very few stones unturned; portraying a gritty commentary of physical violence and the narcissistic manipulations far too many families face every damn day. She makes me want to go donate somewhere. For that visibility alone, this is a must read. Whatever your gender or demographic, understanding what drives a victims decisions in situations like this is a worthwhile education. To that end, I’ll close on Perdie’s thoughts, which rather sum up how it was for me to shut this book.