Max and Menna
by Shauna Kelley
Published by: Lucky Press, LLC
Published: November 1, 2010
Shauna Kelley has written an incredible story of wanting love and hope and redemption from a life of unforgiving circumstances. Max and Menna is the story of a brother and sister who live a life of poverty and neglect with their alcoholic mother and promiscuous, older sister. Without any guidance or nurturing, Max and Menna must rely on each other to live each day, day by day - uncertain where their meals will come from and what state their mother will be in when the come home. Each morning they seek salvation outdoors and return in the late hours of the night, hoping to avoid the drunken mess of their mother. Their lives are altered the day they meet Nick, a Native American, who is different from them, but in so many ways, is the same.
Told in alternating perspectives, Max and Menna return to the summers of their childhood and begin to explain what happened to them, revealing the significant parts of their lives that they have never shared. Experiences that have left them broken and why they never want to remember them.
Max best explains this in his private writing:
"I had hoped since I left home that childhood itself wasn't essential,
that I could easily walk away from it and bury it in the back of my mind.
I can't." (pg. 5)
Just like Ordinary Beauty which I recently read and reviewed, this book has left me forever changed. My eyes are open to an experience that I am so thankful is not my own. I was heartbroken as I read the story of Max, Menna and Nick and how they were just children forced to suffer because of their circumstances. Shauna Kelley is thoughtful in her storytelling allowing me to experience the want and need that Max and Menna felt - wanting something better than what their families and townspeople wouldn't allow them to have.
Ok, I am honestly stumped in writing this review, because I feel like I can't adequately express why I think you need to read Max and Menna. It has moved me in a way that I can't quite explain. It's a story that you need to know, you must know. I want you to know. It's that good.