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Beaten. Branded. Defiant.
Anna is a possession. She is owned by the man named Will, shielded from the world of struggles by his care. He loves her, protects her and then breaks her. Anna is obedient, dutiful and compliant. Anna does not know her place in the world.
When she falls pregnant, Anna leaves her name behind, and finds the strength to run. But the past - and Will - catch up with her in an idyllic town with a dark secret, and this time, it's not just Anna who is at risk.
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Hard and challenging read
I might come back to this later, as I'm currently just a tad speechless. But I'll try my best to order my thoughts now, while they are still fresh.
While Anna had a smooth prose that lets you sink into the story right away, it is not an easy read.
It has quite some trigger warnings, and they are absolutely correct. While Anna handles these topics in a very sensitive and good way, which are thought provoking and gripping, instead of gratuitous, it is not an easy read.
This is a near future dystopian UK, and society has gone down the drain. Women are often fair game, and if you brand one you caught, she's now yours. Congratulations.
Our main character has been on her own for quite a while when that exact thing happens - she gets caught and branded.
From there on its a story of abuse and the slow spiral from finding a way out, into loosing your way and starting to doubt your worth. Do you even deserve to get away?
There's violence, there physical and mental abuse, there's rape (not in graphic detail, but in psychological one), there's being controlled and there's all the emotional turmoil that comes with it.
I loved how well Smith managed to catch the victims state of mind, and how she allows us to see into a woman who is haunted by what happened, and suffers from PTSD, but yet just isn't willing to give up.
There is no clear path, and there's plenty of steps back along with the forward ones. It's often hard to understand why you wouldn't lash out more, of you've never been in such a "relationship" - and that's exactly why I think books like this are important. To broaden my horizon and to let me see new perspectives and at least try to understand what's going on in a person who lives through that sort of hell. When you're mentally so broken you get caught between hating that person and being frozen from fear.
Anna is not a comfortable read. Anna is not an easy read.
Anna however is an addictive read that makes you think and re-evaluate things. It is challenging and hard to digest, yet it doesn't leave you utterly hopeless. It's an eye opener and I am sure I will think about it for weeks to come.