"You know how it goes, the more fucked up way in which you die, the more you get remembered in a small town."
Well, that’s not the exact quote from Jenny in Everybody Dies Famous in a Small Town, but that’s the gist of what the sixteen-year-old said. She’s speaking to her friend Mika Shaw regarding the recent teen deaths that have rocked their reservation community located near the eastern Sierras.
It was nice to see Wrath James White take me to a new environment compared to the other books and stories I’ve read of his. Living in the Southwest myself, I am aware of Indian Reservation communities, but I don’t have much knowledge about life on the reservation. Like anywhere else, I’m sure there are good and bad parts, but since it’s Wrath, you know he’s going to expose the reader to the worst side of everything and this book is no exception.
With apathy all round them, and not much to do, Micah and Jenny pass the days of summer in a haze of drugs and sex. Boredom will not grip Mika for long though as she is marked by the Pahoha—supernatural creatures with pale skin and black eyes. Their voices sound like the cries of young children which summon strangers to the lake to be drowned. Though they often appear as babies, these malevolent spirits can materialize as anything. Now that Mika has seen the water babies, neither she nor anyone she loves is safe.
I really enjoy books about myths and legends, especially ones that bring in cultures that aren’t always as prevalent in mainstream fiction. Let’s face it, I can only handle so many werewolf and vampire books. While the pahoha are a great myth—if they are a myth ;)—this was a hard story to read. Be forewarned that all the graphic scenes of drugs and violence involve youths. Life can be harsh on the reservation and there was one scene that actually made me a bit ill. I think the saddest part was knowing that adolescents are forced to live in these conditions. That horror was worse than any supernatural killers. I give Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town 3.5 stars out of 5 because the ending felt rushed. I believe there was a bit more Wrath could have done to improve the story development while still maintaining the same type of ending.
I was very fortunate to receive this as a gift from someone, however, this is a limited edition from Thunderstorm Books. A quick search on Amazon shows the hardcover as unavailable at the moment. Anyone know where more copies can be found?
Until then, stay out of the water, or at least use protection ;)