Boy Parts is a magnificent debut novel written by Eliza Clark. It’s dark and edgy and takes you on a very strategic and tumultuous ride. Clark tells us the deeply twisted and at times worrisome story of an artist named Irina who is making a comeback on the London art scene. You get a mix of complicated friendships and relationships, drugs, kinky sex, and darker things you’ll never see coming. Clark does a great job of developing every character so that you feel you know them and form fake alliances as you read.
The novel is told through the voice of Irina, a nearly 30-something avant garde photographer looking to make a real comeback. As I said, Clark does a great job of giving background and developing all the characters, but Irina is the puzzle you’ll find yourself trying to figure out through the end of the book. You can tell she is problematic, dry and at the beginning maybe a little self-involved (as the book goes on you learn she is more than self-involved but absolutely narcissistic). But by the end of the novel, I sympathized with everyone but Irina. This felt like the first time I read a book and didn’t root for the main character. Everytime something happened I figured this would be the time that Irina gets caught up and either gets in trouble or is seriously hurt, and yet…somehow she is completely unscathed. It’s not like I wanted bad things to happen to Irina but she continuously puts herself and even her friends at times in very dangerous situations and thinks nothing of it. My biggest problem with Irina was the fact that she seemed completely apathetic to her friends, her family and life in general. At first I wanted to attribute this to trauma, and it very well may be but as I continue to read the book she started to feel more dangerous and sociopathic.
First and foremost, kudos to Eliza Clark for writing such a deep and gripping debut novel. Boy Parts really makes the reader reconsider what’s good and bad, right vs. wrong while also shining a light on gender norms and the concept of consent. It should be noted that this novel has content that is a bit on the explicit side, which is why I personally picked it up but some of the content can also be triggering to those who may have survived sexual trauma. If you’re looking for a book that examines sexuality and gender roles from a different lens and is also a page turner I highly recommend you pick up Boy Parts, you won’t regret it.
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