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Victor LaValle’s novella, Lucretia and the Kroons, provides evidence of the impossibility to protect youth from the world’s horrors. Twelve-year-old Lucretia, who goes by the childish nickname of Loochie, is faced with doubt, illness, death, and drugs before she can even step into her days as a teen. With her friend Sunny suffering from cancer treatments, and a group of girls already showing potential of becoming the school’s mean girls, Loochie finds herself regretting that her mother seems to be her best friend.
Loochie pushes her mother into convincing Sunny’s grandmother to let her come over for a rare play date, even as Sunny is so weak she cannot lift her fist. When her mother leaves for the day and Sunny still hasn’t arrived, Loochie becomes annoyed. Ambulance sirens begin to invade her apartment and instead of becoming worried, she tries to drown out the sound, only to become aware of a strange woman outside her window.
The woman ignores all of Loochie’s efforts to get her attention, and reveals something that Loochie never thought she would see in her life: she resembles a member of the crackhead family, the Kroons, that Loochie’s older brother warned her about. Not only does fear overtake Loochie— courage also starts to course through her veins, as she sees that the sickly, disfigured woman has Sunny’s hat.
She can only settle on making her way to the dreaded Kroon apartment and on trying to save Sunny, whom she believes to have been kidnapped. Now she must hope that her courage and love for a friend will overcome the fear the other Kroons will instill in her, on top of the strange yet vaguely familiar world their apartment will take her through.
Victor LaValle has revealed the complex emotions and situations that a child can go through, which may not be easily apparent because their seeming innocence. He also allows readers to realize what horrors can happen to a child. From the time Loochie sees the woman outside her window and travels through the world of the Kroons’ apartment, readers will question the genre of this novella.
What once seemed to be reality has turned into a world that doesn’t quite make sense, but as this becomes the main setting for the rest of the story, it becomes more and more believable. The reader is drawn into Loochie’s frame of mind and what she believes the reader also starts to believe. This makes the ending of the novella even more emotionally charged.
Any confusion or doubt readers have as to what they are reading should be pushed aside. Everything will make sense once the book is read as a whole. The ending will also make readers take at least a moment to sit back and ponder the influence this book can have on anyone who reads it.