Tuesday, September 3, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Sixteen, Sixty-One by Natalie Lucas

Sixteen, Sixty-One
Natalie Lucas was just 15 when she began a close relationship with a man in his early sixties. Matthew opened Natalie’s mind and heart to philosophy and literature. Within months they had entered into the intense, erotic affair that they would disguise as an innocent intergenerational friendship for several years. Together they mocked the small-town busybodies around them, laughing at plebs like her parents and his in-laws, who were all too blinkered by convention to live pure lives. Only Natalie and Matthew were truly free.

Or so she believed. But when Natalie left her hometown for university and decided she wanted to try to live a normal life, Matthew’s affection soon turned into a consuming obsession.

Written with remarkable candor and grace, Sixteen, Sixty-One is more than an account of suburban grooming: it is the gripping story of a young girl’s sexual awakening and journey into womanhood

This is another one of those memoirs where you just don't know how to rate it or write about. Take a look at the synopsis again. Its a relationship with a 44 year age difference. Let that sink in.

This book isn't about the romantic side of things at all. Its about an OLD man abusing his authority and persuading an innocent girl into this relationship. Natalie was technically in the wrong place at the wrong time, with normal teenage issues. Matthew honed in on that and helped her through these difficult times, being her friend. Someone they could bullshit about literature with each other. Then romance and love into the picture. It should be noted that it was never forced and that it did seem like they were truly in love. But, age does and should play a big red flag in a lot of relationships.

This memoir is basically a coming of age story.  Natalie grew up, went to university, studied and travelled abroad. All the while questioning her sexuality. Her self. Her worth. And I did think that her going to America is what potentially saved her. She finally had her distance from Matthew and throughout the whole time she started to see how dependent they were on each other and that it should stop.

The whole relationship was fucked up. Matthew was fucked up. You can definitely see it in his obsessive and utterly abusive emails. The only sad thing is how fucked up it probably left Natalie.

This book reads like a fiction but its real life. That is why it is so hard to write a full review or recommendation for it.


  1. Wow. What an intense read. I'm not sure I would be able to give it a full-fledged review either. Memoirs are really hard to review, because the author is the main character. I always worry about hurting an author in this situation. I think you did a great job with it! The book sounds very interesting, and I'm kind of intrigued... I'm just not sure I would be able to handle the weird relationship.

    - Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl

    1. Thanks! It was a good read for sure, but the subject matter is what makes it tough. There are some points in the book where you forget that they are 44 years apart and are like "aww, that is sooo romantic!" then you snap back into reality and see the horrors of it. I'm the same way about hurting the author too, as its their life and I shouldn't technically review it, but that being said a lot of times when you tell a story you embellish it to make it sound better/funnier/scarier so if I remember that I don't feel as bad about it.

  2. Wow, that sounds like a tough read. Definitely an abuse of power by the older guy. I might have to check it out at some point. I do enjoy memoir

  3. I don't really read many memoirs but this sounds like a must read!!