Fifty Years of Fear by Ross Greenwood
4/5 stars. Ross Greenwood’s a talented, thoughtful writer, who brings to life the rather sad story of Vincent, who suffers many tragedies and challenges during the course of the story.
Could you forgive murder? What if it was something worse?
A childhood accident robs Vincent of his memories, causing him to become sensitive and anxious around others. His differences attract bullies, and he comes to rely heavily on the support of his family.
After the devastating loss of his parents, a remarkable woman teaches him to embrace life and, little by little, he realises the world is far more forgiving than he imagined. When fragments of his memory return, he begins to unravel his past.
Who was his mother? What kind of a man is his brother, Frank? And why does death surround them?
Fate is cruel. History is dark. Things are not as they seem.
Perhaps he should have stayed at home.
When I finished the story, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it.
This is the first book I’ve read by Ross Greenwood and he’s clearly a talented, thoughtful writer, who brings to life the rather sad story of Vincent, who suffers many tragedies and challenges during the course of the story. On the surface, he’s an unremarkable character from a typical working class family. He’s lacking in self-confidence, reliant on his elder brother, Frank, for protection, and prefers reading to real life.
In Vincent, I could see and feel parallels with some of my own self-doubts as a teenager, which meant the writing struck a deeper chord. However, as his story and life developed, the parallels faded, leaving me with the author’s skill as a storyteller to keep me turning the pages.
Overall, I felt this was a story about missed opportunities, tragedy and regret. The family secrets that were revealed by brother, Frank, didn’t quite have the impact they should have had, perhaps because of the way Vincent seemed to accept them as almost inevitable. My interest dipped a little midway as events felt a little predictable, but the story picked up towards the end and made quite an impact.
The atmosphere and detail, as described by Vincent, were vivid and well portrayed, with plenty of emotional depth to all the characters, including the minor ones.
It’s a thought-provoking story of what can go wrong in life when you don’t quite fit into the boxes society provides for you. The author has a distinctive style and voice that took you into the head and heart of Vincent with great skill and sensitivity, allowing you to understand and empathise with him.
If there is a message to be taken from this tale, it’s that we shouldn’t be too quick to judge others, especially when we haven’t walked in their shoes. Having now walked in Vincent’s shoes, I’m still not sure how I feel.