Though I have managed only one-third of this novel--and ordinarily would forego any attempt to review it--I have read various parts throughout in an effort to excuse finishing it, a change of perspective or theme to justify continuing with a tale that is egregiously overwrought and unnecessarily violent, though there is a basic plot. I am writing my thoughts for the undecided, those who spend sparingly on book purchases and haven’t the luxury of making mistakes. This is definitely a title to borrow from the local library, if at all.
Freedom's Child is the debut of Jax Miller, a novel described in the PR literature as “angry, funny, cross and heartfelt.” Certainly Freedom's Child is all those things, but it is also undisciplined, vile, self-indulgent, excessively violent.
In contrast, it is also peppered with religion, either in the form of Biblical quotes, the prayers of various protagonists, or specious insults to particular religious beliefs without context. Its bounty of predominately Christian dogma would seem to qualify Freedom's Child for inclusion as religious fiction, were not the gratuitous violence and language so offensive. God, or a distortion of that concept, is a theme that runs throughout the tale as the protagonist, Freedom Oliver, wreaks havoc on those who would harm her children, later joining a twelve-step program while announcing a return to the Bible, thus erroneously linking the two. But what’s a little distortion to an author who thrives on it?
The author’s personal issues aside--and Miller claims a history of drug and alcohol abuse that enables insight into the various personalities she creates--the story wallows in the accumulated horrors of dysfunction and serious addiction, most characters so mired in their particular diseases that they become caricatures of humanity. There is no real attempt at character development, only the endless descriptions of sexual exploitation, cruelty and debauchery in a plot where victim, Freedom Oliver leaves Witness Protection to save her children from a vengeful brother-in-law. It is his intention to lure her from hiding so he can do unspeakable things before she dies at his hands.
Other writers have used their experiences as addicts or alcoholics as fuel for their work, survivors of a dark world who share these journeys with others. Many of them pen scathingly honest memoirs. Those who prefer fiction use such problems to underscore the issues of a particular character, a common problem that readers might understand. Others could benefit from practicing restraint, avoiding a rambling “drunkalogue” that offers little but shock value. Whatever her intentions in writing this particular story, Miller might consider taking a step back from the excesses of Freedom's Child, a wholesale slaughter of human dignity that sensationalizes and minimizes the humanity of characters best left to hangovers and nightmares. Freedom's Child is “revenge fiction,” an angry author purging private demons, lacking in maturity and compassion and without any redeeming value. Perspective takes time, wisdom possible only when the emotions no longer run the asylum.