In his riveting debut novel, A Ballad for Allison Porter, Gary Solomon recounts with such acute details a tale so distressing that makes your heart cry out loud for the tragic fate of a woman who lived in the shadows of her yesterday’s nightmares. A heartbreaking yarn on one woman’s life and death, A Ballad for Allison Porter is an outstanding piece of work in contemporary fiction that deserves a round of applause.
Allison Porter’s pre-destined exit from Earth is drawing to a close as she awaits her execution in the death row at Oregon State Penitentiary for a heinous crime she has committed. Charged with murdering her next door neighbors that garnered attention from local media and hatred from her community, Allison has not said a word to anyone since her arrest following the murders. She didn’t make an effort to explain her actions, her withdrawn demeanor betraying no emotion. Not even a hint of remorse for what she did.
Kevin Pratt, a local reporter working for the Oregonian, is assigned to cover the story of Allison’s execution. During his unexpected meeting with Allison at the Oregon State Penitentiary, Kevin was completely caught off-guard and genuinely shocked when she surprisingly opens up to him. With the first words uttered by Allison since the murders, she breaks the silence and has a rare heart-to-heart with Kevin.
Deeply-moved by what he heard, Kevin leaves the Penitentiary determined to piece together the taciturn life of Allison Porter with ‘an overwhelming need to understand how this atrocity of life could happen’. Kevin thus makes a trip down to Allison’s empty house and finds his way to a dark closet led him to discover an old shoe box containing memorabilia of Allison’s past, the only remaining legacy of her life.
As Kevin rummages through each of the bits and pieces of Allison’s keepsakes, they bring back memories of her tragic past, each telling a different story, each one a piece of the puzzle that leads to ‘Allison’s heart, her soul, the end of her future, and sum total of her life’.
Constantly backtracking to segments of Allison’s heartrending past, Solomon captivates readers with such ease, peeling layer by layer of the protagonist’s life in excruciating detail. Achingly moving at times, A Ballad for Allison Porter will mercilessly thrust you deep into the turbulent life of the protagonist that eventually led to her deadly retribution. You almost wish you never had to witness the horrifying episodes that Allison had to endure while you can’t help but find yourself delving into the deep, dark retribution that made her commit such a brutal act of violence.
A truly delicate and heart-wrenching tragedy, A Ballad for Allison Porter will shock you with such force that will shake you to the core. You will find your heart aching for Allison Porter as you close the final page of her shocking life. A brilliantly written ballad not to be missed at any cost!
Reviewed by Hamdhoon Rashad for Bookpleasures.com