“Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You” by Ariel Delgado Dixon
Trauma permeates modern societies. In some countries it is caused by abject poverty, dictatorship, indiscriminate brutality, or climate change. In others it can be driven by war, gang violence, ethnic cleansing, and forced migration. In Western culture, trauma often emanates from abuse, neglect, and abandonment with roots in unstable lack of housing, or affordable childcare, rampant racism, sexual discrimination, and domestic violence. In each case, the prevalence of trauma is far more widespread than commonly believed.
Trauma stigma is strong and therefore rarely well depicted. Ariel Delgado Dixon captures the impact of childhood and youth trauma compellingly in her powerful debut novel “Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You”. Here trauma is driven by parental neglect, abandonment, and dissociation.
Dixon makes sure that this raw story is told in an appealing and dramatic manner. The characters are finely drawn. Dialogue is crisp, clever, and very witty. The structure of the plot keeps you on your toes. It is written as a kind of a tapestry that weaves plot elements in and out often in mid-sentence or paragraph. Important tidbits are randomly thrown in, so close attention is highly rewarded.
Dixon clearly knows her subject and has a great deal to say. A word of caution is in order: while everything is presented in a hip and subtle way, the themes are weighty, to say the least. Topics including sexual, drug, and animal abuse are presented, if not necessarily in full detail.
Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for the eARC.