I read this book last week, and it's taken me some time to digest it. I have a few different reactions, and they don't seem to talk to each other, so I'm left a bit confused. First off, emotionally speaking, this book is a three-hanky affair. The subject matter is difficult to say the least. To her credit, Donogue made an risky choice for narrator that could have become very tiresome, and she handled it beautifully. She's really an excellent writer, and she's written a deeply moving book.
The problem came after I finished the book, when I felt a little manipulated. And then I started to wonder, don't we read books, watch films and TV, and go see art in order to be manipulated? We go to art to make us feel, or think in ways we normally wouldn't. Why should I have a problem with that? I came to the conclusion that the plot set-up made me feel manipulated in the bad way. Donoghue put her characters into the most horrible situation imaginable (although not unrealistic since it was inspired by horrible real life events) and the horrible situation did a lot of the emotional heavy lifting. In the end, I want to be manipulated by her art, not by the horrible situation. And even though I *was* moved, the set-up made me feel a little cheated in the end. It's a shame because she seems more than capable of delivering all that emotional impact with her writing alone.