Review: The Red Star Tattoo by Sonja Larsen

25387321*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: Red Star Tattoo

Author: Sonja Larsen

Publisher: Random House Canada

Publication Date: January 12, 2016

ISBN: 9780345815279

Red Star Tattoo: My Life as a Girl Revolutionary

Synopsis from Goodreads:
From hardscrabble Milwaukee to dreamy Hawaii, from turbulent Montreal to free-spirited California, Red Star Tattoo is Sonja Larsen’s unforgettable memoir of a young life spent on the move. By the age of 16, Sonja joins a cult-like communist organization in Brooklyn–unaware of the dark nature of what awaits her.

—–

Sonja Larsen’s memoir is a story of a girl growing up in a life far removed from that of the “nuclear family.” From hitchhiking at age 8 to joining a communist-like cult in her mid-teens, Sonja’s life is anything but normal. With a mother who lives a counter cultural life supporting the revolution, and little structure and adult influence in her life, Sonja grows up knowing she can only rely on herself and her abilities.

Her story is an interesting one, as she spends time moving from commune to school, to communist community. Her life has little direction, but she knows that she wants to be a part of something. I feel like throughout her journey, Sonja is really searching for herself, trying to understand who she is and what she stands for. Just like any one of us. Her path is full of roadblocks: rape, death, lack of parental support. She is forced to grow up too quickly. Her story is tragic, but interesting. She is often confused and doesn’t understand her world in full, but as the reader, we have a greater grasp on the elements that are wrong and disturbing. It kind of makes you want to reach out and take the hand of her 16-year-old self to let her know that things will work out.

I liked the inclusion of photos from Sonja’s childhood, giving us brief glimpses into her life, but I found their placement to be a little less than ideal. They break up the paragraphs and extend past the text to the edges of the pages. Although in some contexts, this placement of visual elements can be appealing (mostly in full colour artistic books) I found in this case, it did nothing to aid in the telling of the story. Additionally, none of the photos are captioned or labelled so it makes it a bit difficult to tie them into each chapter.

Very interesting as a whole!

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