sota-scarletters112713Reviewed by Jessa Larsen

Rudy Dallmann is a 40 year old gay man, living an isolated life in Massachusetts as a self-employed gardener. Nearly twenty years ago, he was savagely assaulted by two teenagers shortly after leaving a gay bar. Rudy never reported the crime, but it still haunts him, even now. What triggered theses two young boys to assault him in such a way? Where are they now? What kind of men did they become? Rudy’s best friend Tex pushes and prods until Rudy finally gives in and begins the emotionally tolling search to find some answers and perhaps, hopefully, finally, move on.

The Scar Letters is the meandering narrative of Rudy, a man constantly questioning the motives of himself and others. Wondering the eternal what-if’s of life. The meandering style flows well with the main character and truly suits the story line itself. I’m not a particularly huge fan of this style and it did lead to me constantly putting the book down and picking it back up at some random later point in time. I did think Rudy was an extremely well thought out and realistic character. He is constantly in and out of random relationships which holds true for the gay community in the time period in which the book seems to take place. Although in reality, this type of story still holds true enough today.

The only true gripe I have with this book is the characters Rudy chooses to date. I can understand not being able to handle or even refusing to handle a relationship when you are a the victim of such an assault. I can understand clinging onto inappropriate relationships. I can also understand jumping quickly in and out of random relationships. I didn’t understand why Rudy needed to try to date just about any semi-main character. I will admit that the way the complexity of human interactions and relationships was written came across as very realistic and true to form.

Rudy seems to have an ongoing relationship with Tex throughout his adult life, but one way or another they seem to have slipped into the friend zone. Rudy meets Jack, his therapist with whom he opens up to and as a result, he wants to cling to this connection. The relationship I had the hardest time understanding was the relationship he forms with Stanley, the boy, now man, who helped brutally assault him in the first place. Confronting the person makes sense to me, dating him does not. The fact that the man is now a closet gay married to a female was an all too realistic concept and I did appreciate that being a part of the story. I don’t know if I will ever come to grips with Rudy dating him regardless of the in or out of the closet aspect of it all. Overall, I loved the beautiful truths in this novel, but I’m truly torn about Rudy’s relationships. Perhaps the confusing complexity is the entire point.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She is a full time mom and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. She also likes watching anime, reading books, and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Richard Alther. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.