Armadillos by P K Lynch
‘A person could only choose left or right from our gate. The right road led to town where people knew me. I chose left. That way was the rest of the world.’
Aggie is a tough world-weary fifteen year old from the Texas outbacks with only the vaguest idea that the abuse she suffers behind closed doors is unacceptable. Along with her backwards family, Aggie sees herself as a ‘sub,’ an outsider, wrong. Then one day, Aggie picks up and walks out, leaving her torturous father, her abusive brother and her beloved sister, behind.
Aggie takes with her only the clothes on her back and a series of troubling memories, which continue to haunt her from page to page, as she travels on foot and hitchhikes without aim. A chance meeting brings Aggie closer to a group of misfits who soon become a surrogate family, albeit a highly dysfunctional one. As she finds her place in the new world, Aggie dreams of JoJo, worrying about how her older sister is coping without her around.
During her time in the run-down squat, Aggie grows closer to the eccentric Freak, and even to the unfriendly ‘Beast Woman’ with whom she lives. As she delves deeper into their world, Aggie finds that her new housemates have a history as distorted as her own, and learns a lot about herself and her own past in the process. When misplaced loyalty drags her into a life-threatening situation, Aggie realises that some problems have to be faced head-on.
As the title suggests, the novel is graphic, often violent, startling, and at times tough, but there remains at its core a poignant and soft centre, a vulnerable young girl and her desperate fight to thrive. Like the armadillos that wander the dusty plains of rural Texas, Aggie is strong, thick-skinned – she is a survivor until the very last page.