I seem to be on a true story/biography kick recently. With Hunger, Al Franken's book, and a few other essay books, I was in the mood for Fact of a Body. It had been staring at me from the floor because I received it from a Goodreads contest. I also kept hearing about it on All The Books, so I wanted to read it. I just didn't know what I was in store for.
This book is two stories put together. One is the story of a pedophile and a murderer named Ricky Langley. Ricky had killed a boy by strangling him to death. The boy stayed in a closet for 2 days while the rest of the family lived normally and as the search for the boy happened. There was a taped confession and Ricky was on death row, then not on death row. The odd thing about one of his trials is the mother of the young boy testified on Ricky's behalf.
The other story is Lesnevich's story as she becomes a lawyer with this trial. As she sees Langley's confession, she is brought to her own past where she and her sister were molested by her grandfather. She remembers no one wanting to talk about it, but making moves to prevent her molestation from continuing. She now must defend Langley.
This was a mixed book for me. One the one hand, the book was well written, the stories we so well thought out with a lot of heart and care, but the exploration of the lives of two pedophiles was a tough pill to swallow. The book explores- how does one defend a pedophile/murderer with one's own history? The book also looks at the mother, not only testifying against Ricky and for him at the same time. How could someone do this? Much of it revolves around the history of how a pedophile becomes a pedophile and whether or not the death penalty is the only answer.
You walk with Lesnevich's struggle throughout the book, as this hits really close to home. In the book she is laying out the case for Langley from his birth, where he is conceived while his mother is in a body cast and filled with drugs to his life, where he had multiple victims yet sought help regularly to his trial. As she explores Langley, she is also exploring her life and how people treat victims of molestation, especially within the family system. This makes this read very difficult, especially if you find it hard to feel sorry for pedophiles. The challenge is a good challenge and no one had to face it more than Lesnevich.
I wound up giving this one 3.5 stars. The topic was a tough one for me and at times I wish she didn't give the outcome before telling the story. There were several instances of this happening. It is still a great read, so I see where the high praise comes from.