Book Review: Penpal

PENPAL | Dathan Auerbach
07.11.2012 | 1000Vultures
Rating: 5/5 stars


A man is haunted by the events of his childhood and trying to understand a past he hasn’t been able to fully grasp until now. He decides to look back into his past and investigate a series of memories about strange, tragic, and downright horrifying events that occurred throughout his childhood. Through the help of his mother, memories begin to piece together to form a full picture of the interconnectedness between them. Each memory has gone on to shape the way this man’s life has unfolded, the fate of his childhood friendships, and his relationship with his mother.

As children we have terrific and terrible times – events that, as we experience them, seem to be the most important things that have ever happened to us – but more often than not we forget them. Truth to tell, at any point in our lives we’ve forgotten more than we know about our own history. The world moves on, and so do we, and what was once important fades away.

Exploring the woods, going on adventures late at night, and telling scary stories are all part of growing up. Is there more to these innocent memories of youth? What really happened all those years ago?

We want so badly to be happy – to live the kinds of lives we always hoped we’d live – that we give gifts to ourselves by remembering things not as they were, but as we wish they were.

PENPAL is a series of stories about a child’s past. The stories are told out of chronological order, but in the way that they were remembered when looking back. The order of the memories I learned is actually based on how the author posted the stories on Reddit. I loved that they weren’t in order and that I could connect the mysterious events and timeline on my own. Themes of darkness, feeling as though you’re being watched, and unease haunt the pages of this book. As the memories of the adventures of the man’s youth unfold, you can feel your skin begin to crawl. As a kid, sleepwalking into the woods and feeling as if you’re being watched aren’t that unsettling, but hearing the details that his mom provides to round out the facts of the stories are where the creep factor begins. I was genuinely uncomfortable several times while reading this book. I got chills and felt like someone was lurking behind me, which just made me love it all the more! PENPAL is an unsettling, captivating, and goosebump causing book!

When you are confronted with something in the world that simply doesn’t belong, your mind tries to convince itself that it is dreaming, and to that end it provides your with that distinct sense of all things moving slowly, as if through sap.

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