My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

// opinion of My Sunshine Away may be skewed by the fact that I listened to the audio version, and the narrator had the voice of a serial killer. This contributed to my misgivings about the protagonist, although this guy is creepy enough in his own right.

The plot of this novel centers around the unresolved rape of an adolescent girl (Lindy) in 1980s small-town Louisiana. Pages into the first chapter, our protagonist casually mentions: “I should tell you now that I was one of the suspects. Hear me out. Let me explain.” His explanations do little more than make him seem increasingly guilty of the crime at hand and God knows what else.

My main issue here is that Walsh was doing some really neat tricks with the narrator, who initially comes across as a product of Poe. His constant claims of innocence only further convince readers of his guilt. For instance, he assures us repeatedly that the circumstantial evidence looks pretty bad, but his activities were completely normal for a teenage boy. Sure, he probably should not have climbed the tree outside of Lindy’s house to watch her in her bedroom on an almost nightly basis. Okay, so he kept some candid photographs of Lindy in a lockbox under his bed, which he used to craft homemade pornographic images – boys will be boys, after all. This story is told from an adult perspective, so these cute little anecdotes are peppered with tales of the protagonist’s good deeds in his current life. He helped a pregnant woman during a flood. He spends lots of time with his mom and his nieces and nephews. He is completely unreliable and I don’t trust him one bit. Basically, I was completely convinced that this pervy-mcpervkins was 130% responsible for this crime. SPOILER ALERT. He was not.

I don’t remember who was, that’s how upset I was that it wasn’t him. I essentially tuned out the conclusion because I could not believe Walsh would irreparably ruin his book in such a way. Not that it was that great to begin with, but a sociopathic narrator is always a great asset, one that he unceremoniously flushed down the toilet. What was the point? Why invest all of this time into creating a character that readers could be simultaneously sure and unsure of? That’s not easy to do, so kudos to you there, Walshy. But why do it if it serves no purpose at all in your novel? As is abundantly clear at the moment, My Sunshine Away has left me with feelings of anger and frustration that I must come to terms with.  I will be sending my therapist bills to M.O. Walsh.


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