“The Packing House” by G. Donald Cribbs is an incredible, powerful book. It is an absolute must-read for anyone with a son or for any boy/man who has survived child sexual abuse.
“The Packing House tells the story of Joel Scrivener from his point of view. Joel is a sophomore in high school who frequently moves on short notice at the behest of his mother. This adds to his difficulties in dealing with many typical issues of a social outcast. He has trouble connecting with girls, particularly his long-time love Amber, he’s unsure of his sexuality, and he experiences bullying, sometimes at the hands of his younger brother. All of that is simply the foundation for the greatest horror Joel faces. He experiences horrible nightmares which lead to him recovering memories of being raped a decade earlier.
While the primary subject is childhood sexual abuse, Cribbs also tackles other issues like the aforementioned bullying as well as domestic violence, gambling addiction, parental abandonment, questioning sexuality, and others. It may seem like Joel deals with a lot, but research continues to show that experiencing multiple forms of child maltreatment is not uncommon. I’ll admit it was a tough read for me because so many of the issues in the book echoed with me and my own history. However, this is truly a wonderful novel, impeccably written. Had I not known Cribbs to be a fully grown man (and father of four), I might’ve suspected this book was written by a teenage boy.
Cribbs masterfully captures the voice of a teenage boy. At times, it’s almost too masterful as Joel discusses his burgeoning but very normal sexuality. This could be a little troublesome for those not comfortable with the subject matter, but it will hopefully not get in the way of anyone enjoying this wonderful novel. G. Donald Cribbs has really accomplished something special with “The Packing House”, and I highly recommend everyone read this book.