Book Review: In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
If you're not familiar with Machado's writing, let me warn you that it's equal parts beautiful and disconcerting. Perhaps, it would be akin to seeing Medusa in the flesh. That is, until she stuns you still before she kills you then you won't feel anything at all. In the same way you'll meet your demise, Machado's prose will hit you right in the solar plexus. But like a slow torture, because she'll make you wallow in it first. In her latest work, the memoir features pages upon pages of several doors. Doors leading to different scenarios -- sometimes fun, sometimes sublime, but most of the time, horrific.
I supposed you can say this is her invitation for you to enter her house of horrors. Recounting a life in the hands of an abusive partner. I am honest enough to admit my naivete that abuse only happens in the hands of a man. Carmen definitely proved that theory otherwise. Abuse of any kind doesn't happen instantly, as we all know. It starts off as a throw away comment about the way you look; a blame for something inconsequential, then eventually, a paralyzing fear instilled right in your deepest core until you can't move.
First, the victim feels utterly grateful for her luck. Imagine meeting your ultimate person, your soulmate. She's beautiful and brilliant, while you feel lacking in all that you think matters. But because you don't know yet what it feels like to be properly in love, you think this is it. Your life can't get any better, and you do your best to hold on to that feeling. Even ignoring the way she's slowly putting you down even in small increments. Until you wake up no longer recognizing who you are and cannot envision a way out.
What you can take away from reading this book, is if you're a woman who has suffered abuse in the hands of another woman and found yourself questioning whether to consider it abuse, question no more. Abuse is abuse is abuse. Regardless of the the person's sexual orientation or gender. Machado's writing amplifies the beauty of love and as well, the horrors.