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Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
The Ghost Years by Mutch Katsonga deals with the emotional and psychological downfall of a young man and his remarkable journey to a life of clarity and understanding. At the young age of 14, his idyllic childhood is shattered when he experiences something that changes his world forever. The young man begins to push everyone that cares for him away and completely rebels against society. This leads him into the murky world of drugs, homelessness, and debauchery. His sense of what is real and imaginary becomes blurred and he falls into deep depression and self-loathing. Through his disturbing personal account of the realism of life on the streets and the dark characters that lurk in the shadows, we follow his path from despair to enlightenment about life and its meaning. The question is asked: Do we have any control over the path life takes us on? Is our fate destined or do we have the power to plot out our own unique journey?
The Ghost Years by Mutch Katsonga is not an easy book to read, in the sense that the author has a remarkable ability to draw you into the world of the complex but very real characters. I loved the strong female characters of Aunt Aretha and Kat who were such a source of strength and guidance for the young man. I also loved the relationship dynamic between the protagonist and his father. His father loved him dearly but was struggling with his own demons. I thought it was so sad that they couldn't open up to each other, but their view of the world was so polar opposite that they just couldn't make it happen. Although primarily this is the story of a young man's fall into a world of drugs and alcohol, there is far more to the plot. I believe that the strong message throughout this gritty and brutally honest novel is we are all battling our own demons in some form. There are some harrowing scenes, such as the scene with Weeds and the heartbreaking incident when the young man was 14 years old. I loved the style of writing by this author because he leaves so much unsaid for the reader to work out in their own minds. I, personally, felt this book can speak to anyone about their own life journey, the choices they make so they gain a better understanding of how they find themselves in their present situation. A superb novel and one I cannot recommend highly enough.