Thank you Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill via NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book!
Using the voices and points of view of several patients and staff members of a once state-run nursing home for youth, Nussbaum tells the story of those who are placed in these institutions, those who put them there, and those who care (or don't care) for them.
Nussbaum created a cast of characters that absolutely drew me in and wrapped their arms around me. I instantly fell in love with some and wanted to go bat sh*t crazy on others. Good Kings Bad Kings is a very emotional read in that way - frustration, sadness, and anger were common.
Reads like this are the best, yet the hardest to read. Mia, Teddy, Yessie, Pierre, Cheri and many others, are good kids, but they are crippled kids (crips in the book) and the treatment from some (even their own families) is downright disgusting and infuriating. It is the best because you do feel so attached and involved, but the worst because readers will sense and know that some of this happens in our world as well so these characters do indeed become real.
Adding to both the good and the bad feelings are the staff members readers will meet as well. Ricky, Joanne, Jimmy, Lorraine and a few others are kind and loving to the kids. They see the goodness and the strength. Yet lurking everywhere are those that would tear these kids down either by negligence, ignorance, or just plain viciousness.
I was on the fence about one character - in the beginning I wanted to like her; thought she was being set up to make a difference. Then I hated her - one of the notes I took said if I didn't see some transformation I might explode. Finally, I was just irritatingly okay with her. There was some transformation, but it just wasn't enough for me - she had so much information and so much power to do more. (Note: this is not me writing about something I find wrong with the writing, I think the author knew very well what she was doing when creating this character because there are many Michelle's out there indeed.)
The story jumps around between the kids and the caretakers to tell the story and I felt it flowed well. Upon completion I felt, off kilter. It just ended all of the sudden and I thought for sure I'd missed something. However, after a little introspection, I didn't - the author ended the story perfectly and readers will experience a range of emotions once again.
I was provided an ARC copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I am not compensated for any of my reviews.
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