One Foot Wrong

Sofie Laguna

One Foot Wrong
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One Foot Wrong

Sofie Laguna

A child is imprisoned in a house by her reclusive religious parents. Hester has never seen the outside world; her companions are Cat, Spoon, Door, Handle, Broom, and they all speak to her. Her imagination is informed by one book, an illustrated child’s bible, and its imagery forms the sole basis for her capacity to make poetic connection. One day Hester takes a brave Alice in Wonderland trip into the forbidden outside (at the behest of Handle - ‘turn me turn me’), and this overwhelming encounter with light and sky and sunshine is a marvel to her. From this moment on, Hester learns the concept of the secret, and not telling, and the world becomes something that fills her with feeling as if she is a vessel, empty and bottomless for need of it. The story told by Hester in One Foot Wrong is often dark and terrible, but the sheer blazing brilliance of her language and the imagery that illuminates the pages make this novel an exhilarating, enlightening and joyous act of faith. The stars shine brightest out of the deepest dark.

Review

Hester is not allowed to leave the house that she shares with her mother and father, Sack and Boot. She makes friends with the objects around her, the tree in the backyard, the door handle, a spoon. Hester lives a bleak existence, without self-pity or questions, and it’s not long before her imaginary friends start pestering her with their own desires.

This is children’s author Sofie Laguna’s first adult novel, and it is a book of extraordinary beauty and ugliness. Laguna has created a marvelous narrator in Hester. Hester lacks self-knowledge and lives in a constant state of revelation, joy and passion. Her only references are an illustrated children’s bible and the extreme religious views of her parents. The reader becomes so caught up in the poetry of Hester’s idiosyncratic voice and the strangeness of her world, that we do not realise at first that what she is describing is, in fact, unforgivable abuse.

One Foot Wrong is a harrowing story, uniquely and sensitively written, that builds slowly towards an inevitable and horrific ending. We hope for Hester, that she will find an escape as she travels through school and institution, but in the end our hopes are confounded.

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