The title drew me in.
The way the red background swallowed the illustration of the small boy on the cover.
I was in tears by the time I was partway through the book.
The Scar, by Charlotte Moundlic, is the story of a young boy preparing for, experiencing, and ultimately surviving the death of his mother.
This leaves a metaphorical and literal scar on him. When he falls and scrapes his knee after his mother’s death, he remembers how she used to soothe him. When the scrape starts to heal before he does, the boy keeps scraping at it to keep the comfort of his mother alive.
It was around this point that I really started crying.
Death, loss, self-mutilation – what kind of children’s book was this?
For the child who’s lost a parent, exactly the kind that needs to be written.
There’s no shielding those children from the pain, the hurt, the ugly truth. They live the nightmare.
I was reminded of a man in a writer’s intensive that I took who told the story of student with special needs who found nearly every task throughout his day difficult. He wanted students like him to read a story about them. Even though it might be a difficult story to tell, a difficult story to read, there were children who needed a narrative to which they could relate, a way to know they weren’t the only ones to have experienced this. They were not alone in the universe. Maybe there were even people who overcame their difficult obstacle.
And while extremely poignant and slightly heartbreaking, The Scar does end on a positive note. The boy, though always sure to miss his mother, allows the scar to begin to heal.
So what on the surface once seemed revolting, is now something we can look at without cringing – and, for some children, is absolutely essential.