“Death doesn’t discriminate the sane from the ill or the rich from the poor. She loves us all.” (Omar pg. 3)
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Cover blurb (from Amazon): “A collection of short stories dealing with different kinds of scars we keep. They never said being human could be this hard. They never told us about the scars we would carry. They only told us that this is what it means to be alive.”
I received a free copy of The Itching Scars in exchange for an honest review. For more information, please see my review policy page.
This is one of those rare books that really got its hooks into me. I can’t stop thinking about it. Each story is twisted, dark and tragic but I can’t get them out of my mind (in the best way).
**Spoiler alert/sensitive content warning** I’m going to get this out of the way up-front. This book touches on almost every challenging topic. Throughout the three stories, Omar discusses pedophilia, rape, family violence, murder, suicide, religion, mental illness and sex. This isn’t a light read. The reader is present for most of the horrible events (specifically the rape and murders). Omar doesn’t shy away from lurid detail. There is also a significant amount of swearing.**
If you’re willing to jump into the depths of humanity, though, this collection is truly riveting. The Itching Scars focuses on what it means to be human. What choices do we make? What are the consequences of our actions? Can we live with ourselves in our darkest moments?
Each story ends with a twist that I didn’t see coming and I don’t want to spoil anything. I will say that Omar’s style is gritty, and the plot lines are grim. Despite this darkness (or perhaps because of it), Omar’s characters are intriguing and I was totally drawn in. This collection is short (only about 10,000 words) but I wish there were more!
Most of Omar’s characters are not described at length. Sometimes that feels like a cop-out, but in this case I thought it made the stories more universal. They could take place anywhere. Social issues are well represented. Immigration, sex work and religion in society all come into play. **Spoiler alert** The last story, Under the Rust, features a character who is actively seeking mental health treatment and the therapist is portrayed as warm and understanding.**
There were a few formatting/editing things that could have been improved but they were very minor. I sped right through these stories, and I was sad when they were over. I wish there were more, and I desperately want to discuss this book with someone.
Happy reading, friends.