Review: SELF-PORTRAIT WITH BOY by Rachel Lyon

Janelle Book Reviews, Finished Copy, From Publisher, Literary Fiction, Scribner Books Leave a Comment

Thank you so much to Scribner for providing my free copy – all opinions are my own. 

“What enraged me is that they didn’t, couldn’t, see me. I was less than a machine to them, less than a body. I did not even appear in their line of sight. I was nothing more than a couple of chanted phrases: Cash or charge? Paper or plastic? Thank you, have a nice night.”

I knew immediately when I read the synopsis that this book was the one to read. It’s a well-written, very unique, haunting debut novel about a struggling young photographer named Lu Rile, who lives in an almost condemned building in Brooklyn, New York. While setting up her camera for a self-portrait, she captures an unimaginable tragedy. A nine-year-old boy, Max, slips from the roof and falls to his death. Lu happens to capture the boy as he falls from the sky which inadvertently creates an artistic masterpiece. After Max’s death, the neighbors rally around Max’s mother, Kate for support and that’s when Lu and Kate become close friends. Lu has to make a choice, her art and success or her friendship with Kate?

The writing is raw, fearless, and captures the moral dilemma in this story perfectly. I can’t even describe the layers to this book. Lu is hurting financially and even steals food from the store she works at, so this photograph can mean everything to her career and well-being. Although Lu wasn’t friends with Kate before, she is now and needs to figure out what to do next. SELF-PORTRAIT WITH BOY is razor sharp, thought-provoking, and very emotional. It’s a slow burn that hits you so hard at the end.

“…if in the very moment of taking that four hundredth self-portrait I had seen immediately how the picture had turned out – I might have just deleted it. These days, working in digital, I often delete pictures reflexively. But a strip of plastic, gelatin, and silver halide crystals doesn’t just disappear. You have to burn it.”

My rating is 5 / 5 stars!

Click here to purchase on Amazon.

Leave a Reply