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Helpless [Download] ➺ Helpless ➽ Barbara Gowdy – Flip flap hereFlip flop therePotato pancakes in the airLatkes flying everywhereWinner of the National Jewish Book Award Hanukkah follows one family's celebration of the holiday from eating latkes and Flip flap hereFlip flop therePotato pancakes in the airLatkes flying everywhereWinner of the National Jewish Book Award Hanukkah follows one family's celebration of the holiday from eating latkes and spinning the dreidel to singing prayers and lighting the menorah With sweet rhyming text and warm illustrations this is the perfect was to celebrate the festival of lights.

10 thoughts on “Helpless

  1. Melanie Melanie says:

    I liked this well enough Story of a young girl who is abducted There are POV's from several characters which I liked including the abductor Another reviewer mentioned that the story was compelling but lacked depth and I agree with that A good book but not a great book

  2. Rebecca McNutt Rebecca McNutt says:

    I love Canadian fiction but Helpless didn't really impress me too much It was typical and dull at the best of times

  3. Kirsty Kirsty says:

    Helpless is the first book which I have read by Barbara Gowdy a monthly author who was selected for the book group which I run on Goodreads  Despite the fact that Gowdy is a bestselling author in her native Canada and has written uite a few books one of which was selected for the Man Booker longlist I had never heard of her before she was selected  Of her work  Helpless described as 'a haunting provocative story of heart stopping suspense' and called 'a thumping thriller' by The Independent   appealed to me the most so I elected to read and review it Helpless follows a struggling single mother named Celia who lives in a shabby top floor apartment in downtown Toronto  She has one daughter a 'beautiful' nine year old named Rachel who is the focus of the novel  Rachel disappears on a hot summer evening during a blackout taken to the house of a local repairman named Ron and kept in a purpose built bedroom in his basement  Although Ron and Rachel have never met he falsely convinces himself that she is being abused at home and that she should be his responsibility rather than her mother's  Ron's feelings for Rachel are 'at once tender misguided and chillingly possessive' Helpless is an uncomfortable book to read almost from the very beginning  In the first chapter in which thirty seven year old Ron is introduced lurking outside a school she writes 'He waited  Really young girls have never interested him  Neither have girls whose faces and bodies are starting to show their adult contours  His type is skinny with olive to light brown skin and features that through some fineness of bone structure promise to remain delicate'  He takes this journey to a local school around once a week sitting in his van and watching the young girls who pass him  On this occasion he spies Rachel and uickly becomes obsessed with her  He begins to follow her everywhere  Gowdy writes 'Everything about her thrilled him her thin brown arms the insectlike hinge of her elbows her prancing step the shapely bulb of her head her small suare shoulders bearing the burden of her backpack'Gowdy appears to be hyper aware of how both a mother and daughter in this situation would feel  She writes the following when the police have become involved in the case 'Celia's dread amplifies  She doesn't really think that Rachel is out in the open but she doesn't rule out the possibility either  Not knowing where she is turns every place every house and garage and abandoned store every trunk of every car and now every ditch and field into a place she might be'The novel provides uite an involved character study of Celia  Regardless of the depth which Gowdy went into and the exploration of her past her unplanned pregnancy at the age of twenty one and her mother's death occurring just before Rachel was born however did not uite turn Celia into a believable protagonist  Rather she remained flat and had very little agency  I did not warm to Rachel either who again felt two dimensional  The only character who came across as vaguely realistic was Ron  His girlfriend Nancy serves a purpose in the storyline protecting Ron from those who suspect him and the like but I found her uite an irritating characterThe similarities which Jane Shilling in the  Sunday Telegraph draws between  Helpless and John Fowles'  The Collector were I felt relatively unfounded  Yes there are similarities in terms of the plot but I found Helpless far less chilling and engaging  The novel reminded me rather of  Lolita in the feelings of discomfort which it produced in me and the disgust which I felt towards its main male protagonist  I was also reminded of Beth Hutcheon's  Still Missing told in uite plain prose which deals with the disappearance of a young boy and his mother's reactionsThe prose style of Helpless surprised me; it was largely nondescript and matter of fact and I was not blown away by any of Gowdy's descriptions or scene building  However what did work well was the present tense which Gowdy employed; it enabled the novel to have an immediacy an urgency  There was a good level of pace and a nice rhythm to the novel's structure  The storyline did not seem uite consistent though and I wasn't satisfied with the book's ending as it seemed to finish rather abruptlyIn some ways Helpless was interesting and absorbing but I did find that it became bogged down with detail and drawn out after the first few chapters  It lacked the impact which I would have expected from any book which deals with similar themes  I was not entirely impressed with Helpless and did not find it particularly satisfying  After reading uite a few reviews by those familiar with the rest of the author's work however it seems to be her least liked novel  I would definitely like to pick up another book by Gowdy in future in order to see how it compares   Helpless does not feel like a wholly accomplished work for such a respected author to have written particularly given that this was her seventh book  Regardless it does give the reader a lot to consider

  4. Guy Guy says:

    This is a disturbing book one that once begun kept me turning the pages It is very typically Gowdy meaning that the protagonist is a humanized creep And that is what marks Gowdy apart from the good writer — the ability to bring to her readers a feeling of understanding and even some empathy for a completely unsympathetic character It seems anti social to think and feel that a child abductor could be human and not just a caricature of evil But this is the power of Gowdy's writingGowdy commented that the story she wanted to explore with Helpless was the anguish of a parent whose child disappears And on the surface the disturbing part of this book is of a mother's horror of a child being abducted by a person or persons unknown But somehow that story did not dominate the novel Perhaps during the writing the writer's challenge of the abductor's motivation and humanity took over because that part becomes the central driving element of the novel And what makes the book as disturbing psychologically as it is — and it is very disturbing — is the manner of Gowdy's portrayal of the kidnapperIn her hands the human proceeded along an insane course of action within the bounds of fully justified logic and sound reasoning There is a disturbing unsettling empathy that is generated by this character as he proceeds along his path not as an insane evil creature but as a frail human who has successfully denied to himself the nature of his nature His self delusion allows him to perfectly rationalize his actions; within his scope of self denied understanding his motivations are truly honourable and in this psychology he echos our own failings of self understanding honesty andor awareness Not that many of us have stalked and kidnapped children But where have we for example not fallen victim to own self denials to our own delusions about our motivations or sense of social propriety? Who here on the planet has not rationalized and justified small selfish behaviours as being for some kind of altruistic 'best'? Where have we chosen to live a lie because it served an end which was made to look generous but served our ego's need? When have we mislead someone around us to support us or manipulated someone to collaborate with us to assuage our feeling of doing something amoral? And how often are we unaware of why it is we do the things we do ignorant of what motivates us? To see my extended review of this complex book please go to my blog egajdbooks

  5. Kirsty Kirsty says:

    Wow Gowdy sure knows how to tell a gripping storyThe book tells the story of Celia a single mother whose daughter Rachel is 9 years old and exceptionally beautiful When Rachel goes missing during a blackout Celia desperately clings to her intuition that Rachel is still alive meanwhile the kidnapper watches the media coverage with interest whilst keeping Rachel in his recently renovated basementThe book had me hooked from page one The story is told from many different perspectives Rachel Celia the kidnapper his girlfriend and the family friend Each perspective gives us of an insight into the devastation caused by the kidnapper's actions The book addresses the issues of mental instability the kidnapper's reasons for his actions are not all they seem the kidnapper's girlfriend disagrees with what he's done but goes along with it for reasons of her own The characters are well built especially the kidnapper and his girlfriend I also liked the characterisation of Rachel I felt uite attached to her throughout the book and I thought that her emotions were very well written The bond between Celia and Rachel is also well explored and whilst Celia held it together uite well it was easy to interpret the desperation she was feeling There are many moral issues raised in the book and they have been handled with care and compassion It wasn't an easy read because of the subject matter and at times it felt uite uncomfortable yet I'm glad I read itI felt compelled to keep reading and read the second half of the book in one sitting I liked the ending however I wanted to know and felt that it could have done with an extra couple of chapters That said it doesn't take away from how well written this book is and I would definitely recommend it

  6. jo jo says:

    gowdy a marvelous author of uirky experimental fiction takes the straight road with this story of perverted desire and misses a great chance to investigate and complicate the place where immorality love desire sex and need meet this is a bland book that will make you side with the child abductor not because he's sympathetic besides being a pedophile the poor bastard is bald fat sweaty and an all around sad sack but because he's the least sickeningly normal of all the characters

  7. Flora Flora says:

    It pleases me none to give this such a low rating as Barbara Gowdy is one of my favorite writers The only explanation is that this must be a case of literary identity theft someone wrote a bad book under her good name

  8. Lori Bamber Lori Bamber says:

    Barbara Gowdy achieves something remarkable in this book In this spell binding story which I barely put down and was sorry to finish she made me care deeply about a beautiful young girl her flawed mother a hard bitten former addict and a pedophile The title refers to the forces that all of these characters struggle against and illustrates the adage that if we really know someone we will understand them and why they do what they do We will understand that if we were them we would probably act like them It's a beautiful story and a spectacular accomplishment I could feel those parts of my mind that judge others harshly softening being transformed into something permeable and illuminated

  9. Linda Linda says:

    This book started out going nowhere and never got any better

  10. Bridget Bridget says:

    This is an intriguing book It proves to be not what you were expecting at all The premise is a very scary one and this is a gentle approach to an awful situation

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