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Book Review: Peach by Emma Glass


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If you have a weak stomach and prefer light-hearted stories with a happy ending, then Peach by Emma Glass is maybe not the book for you.

Glass’s debut novel is not for the faint of heart, based on a young woman by the name of Peach who has been through a horrific experience. With blood trickling down between her legs and the faint horrific smell of grease lingering around her, our protagonist stumbles home to a family so wrapped up in their own sex lives and their new baby that they don’t notice anything is amiss.

Image courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing

The premise of the book suggests that “if she is not swallowed whole, Peach must summon all her courage and find something nameless and strange that lies within her.” This is supported by the images of the slowly eaten peach that appear three times throughout the novella: once on the first page, whole and perfect; again, just past the halfway point, with half a peach and the centre on show; and lastly, on the final page when only the pit is left behind to close the text.

The style of the novella came as an unexpected surprise, despite knowing from the offset that Peach is living in a suddenly very fractured universe following her assault. Upon finishing Peach, I went straight online to read what other people had to say about it to try and focus my thoughts and figure out if I actually liked it or not. The reviews seemed to sway very dramatically to both sides – some people seem to absolutely adore it, whereas others find it far too uncomfortable, far-fetched, and frankly ludicrous. As for me, I’m still on the fence.

If I am honest, I had no idea what I was actually reading most of the time. I was left with so many burning questions that never seemed to be answered. Was I missing something, or was I meant to figure them out on my own?

However, I think that is also sort of the point here. Bizarrely, I don’t think this is a book you are actually meant to like and enjoy, but rather appreciate its undeniable uniqueness and, often, point blank absurdity. Peach has experienced a horrific ordeal, so of course it has left its mark on her. This book just happens to tackle the subject in a manner that I have never come across before.

Personally, I think the blurb sets it up to be something that it is not. It is made to sound like experimental prose about a young girl dealing with rape and sexual assault, but this is too simple a description for what you are really about to read. There are so many metaphors to fight through, and the story is propelled forward by stunted sentences, sounds and scents (including uncomfortably vivid imagery of grease and sausages) rather than events and regular descriptions.

My main issue is that there were some instances that were just too uncomfortable to read. Despite books on sexual assault being essential to raising awareness, I feel there are certain lines that this book crossed that didn’t feel necessary. In particular, the relationship between the parents came across in this manner. In one especially odd conversation, Peach’s father comments on how good Peach’s and her boyfriend’s sex life sounds. I don’t know about you, but I can’t even begin to imagine that statement.

That said, this book should certainly not be written off. It almost seems like one that you have to try for yourself to come to your own conclusion, and there are few words that I could write that could accurately depict what you are about to read. Whilst I do have a slightly better understanding of my thoughts on the novella now, I still can’t decide if it was good.

Like I said, I don’t think it is one to be actually liked. Emma Glass’s prose style is completely unique, though, and not one which should be discredited. I think she took a huge risk in attempting this subject in such a way and should be applauded for doing so. As for it being uncomfortable to read, it isn't exactly a comfortable topic so perhaps this is the only way that it should be written, going forward, to truly highlight the lasting effect that any kind of sexual assault can have on someone's mental wellbeing and bring wider attention and conversation to the subject.

There is only one fair conclusion that I can draw from this, and that is all that needs to happen now is for you to read it yourself.

Peach by Emma Glass is available to buy from Waterstones here. This copy was sent for review purposes by Bloomsbury Publishing.

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