From an anti-other political climate comes a novel that gives voice to outcasts tyrannized by power. Boy in the Hole is the gripping account of Jacob, a boy wrestling to understand himself, his family, and the world in which he lives as he grows up in the Deep South in the seventies.
Neuropsychologist Hersh's heartfelt if didactic debut traces the experiences of a boy as he grows up in a dysfunctional, abusive family in 1970s central Florida. As a fifth grader, Jacob Murtaugh's mother forces him to touch his hand to a hot stove ("this is how I feel when you lie to me," she says). The next year, he begins spending time after school at gay neighbor Wayne's house and with friends he's attracted to, and struggles between his Christian faith and his sexuality (" Please don't let me be like Wayne,' he prayed before he thought about the boys in the shower during dress-out"). Hersh chronicles key moments in Jacob's life, from being sexually abused by his pastor, to finding a first love with another boy, to his first sexual experiences. After Jacob's mother makes an appointment for him with therapist Rue Pedersen, Jacob copes with his conflicted emotions by reading up on a psychotherapy method called Quantum Change and practicing it on others. While much of the episodic novel reads like a compendium of sexual experimentation, it gains cumulative power and Jacob becomes increasingly sympathetic. Hersh's chronicle of a precocious boy's ordeal is emotionally affecting. (Self-published)
Fabulous, captivating family saga!
Boy in a Hole is a captivating account of a family coming face-to-face with its dirty laundry, mostly through the eyes of the young Jacob Murtaugh. From the first chapter, your heart will be entrapped with the thoughts of what will become of Jacob while feeling repulsed by many of his family members, their actions, choices, and discounting behaviors. The multigenerational physical and sexual abuse that has entangled this family system bleeds into young Jacob and his baby sister Melody. Will they survive? How can they be healthy, if they survive, amongst all the toxicity? Although a totally different book than Where the Crawdads Sing, Hersh’s beauty and words are reminiscent of Owens’. Not a word was wasted in the heart-felt, gut-wrenching tale of a young man finding his own identity apart from his family of origin. There is a flow to the writing, like poetry at times. Scenes become so vivid in the readers mind, you are carried away before realizing it to only be slapped back into reality with truth and honesty only honesty itself can demand. The writing is modern; yet, reminiscent of authors often forgotten such as Virginia Wolf. Family secrets reveal truths often discounted in everyday life that will lead you to search for your truth, your new found identity as you reach the end of the final chapter. I’ve never read a book like this one before as it weaves metaphor with themes of coming of age, sexuality, religion, and abuse, where the reader searches for themself in the text and in their current life as they are reading. Can a novel be a self-help book too? If so, this is definitely one and well worth the investment of time and mental energy.
Captivating Family Saga with perversions and twists!
Boy In The Hole is a captivating struggle of a young boy growing up in small town USA with a family full of sexual secrets, perversions, and insanity. Jacob is faced with being a protector of his little sister and himself while he’s surrounded by monsters and insanity in his family. Akiva takes his readers where many authors have not gone showing just how much Jacob struggles with his sexual and masculine insecurities. Jacob looks for love and acceptance in many faces, yet sadly rarely finds it through the ones closest to him.
This is a story so powerful and intriguing it keeps you turning the page and looking for a hero along with Jacob! My tears stained many pages of this beautiful tragedy Akiva has told through his eyes. It’s sad, sweet, dark, humorous, and most of all completely raw with emotion. He makes his audience face (head on) topics that were taboo back in the 70’s and 80’s, and still in some cases today!
A Boy In The Hole is a must read for anyone who has ever faced or has known anyone that have questioned their own sexuality, family dysfunction, or sexual abuse.
I do hope Akiva decides to take us further on his journey passed where he left off in Boy In The Hole. I would read every sequel he might choose to write! It left me yearning for more of his story!