A fictionalized account of the life of Bonnie Parker, whose crime spree in the early 1930s with lover Clyde Barrow made her infamous. Tracing her evolution from a bright, promising student to her final month of shoot-outs, kidnappings, and desperate car chases, the novel reveals a woman destroyed by a lethal combination of longing and love.
Evoking the same heightened emotion she so masterfully cultivated in Drowning Ruth and drawing upon the real Bonnie’s 'ripped from the headlines' lifestyle, Schwarz introduces readers to the lady behind the legend, a romantic young girl with the passion of a woman and the naivete of a child ... short, compulsively readable chapters ... As Clyde bounces back and forth from prison to half-assed crime spree to Bonnie’s arms, Schwarz sets the scene of America’s Depression-era Wild West beautifully. The sense of place and time is not only immersive but educational, and though we may not be reading the facts of what Bonnie and Clyde’s beginnings were like, Schwarz certainly provides a plausible, reasonable explanation for their passion and debauchery ... Though Schwarz easily highlights the thrill of the outlaw life and the draw of the notoriety, especially for Bonnie, she is careful to provide both sides of the story, stripping away the glamour and explaining that Bonnie and Clyde often felt trapped when they were on the run, a contradiction that made Bonnie feel hopeless. Schwarz explains how the reports of Clyde’s early crimes were exaggerated, but also how careless he was with details ... My one complaint about Bonnie is that it can get bogged down in detail, particularly near the end when the book reads more like a rap sheet than a work of fiction. Schwarz is careful to relay every detail of Bonnie and Clyde’s crimes. Although prolific, the duo was not very creative, so every repeated crime tends to drag the narrative down rather than propel it forward. Similarly, as Schwarz becomes more immersed in the actual history, she occasionally loses the threads of the characters’ interiors --- their motivations, fears and shared passions. Through about two thirds, Bonnie is a dreamy, believable exploration of the interior life of Bonnie Parker the woman. But the final act rests on the mythos of Bonnie the criminal, making the book feel almost incomplete, if only because Schwarz so masterfully rendered her Bonnie in the beginning ... Schwarz is, hands down, one of the most beautiful writers I’ve had the pleasure of reading. She writes with the romantic overtones of V.C. Andrews and Anne Rice, but her prose is never overly flowery or heavy-handed. Instead, she is able to summarize major points, complex emotions and nuanced subjects with pointed, sharp turns of phrase that read almost like song lyrics ... the book is written with tremendous care and a mastery of language that feels singular in its talent ... well worth reading and recommending, particularly for fans of Marie Benedict and Megan Collins.
Schwarz’s...psychoanalytical take showcases the human toll of lives lost to stupid ambitions ineptly pursued and Bonnie’s avoidable association with a liar who cares little for her or anyone else. There is no 'glory' in a life on the run. Schwarz illuminates the boredom and shiftlessness of such an existence ... Schwarz’s portrayal rings true and is especially pitiable ... Schwarz reveals that 'love story' as a lie and that Bonnie knows it is.
In her absorbing fifth novel, Christina Schwarz...abandons the mythical excitement of the open road for its punishing realities: the gut-wrenching pressure of escape and the injuries that result, bullet-riddled cars, little food and rare sleep, and the dead they leave in their wake ... Schwarz is a vivid storyteller, but keeps a polite distance from the darker impulses that shaped Parker’s life. The couple’s supposed sexual bond lacks nuance, as though the author is blocking a scene rather than pursuing the complex emotions that drive it—and, like so many heroines before her, Bonnie accepts Clyde’s physical mistreatment as a preamble to 'tenderness,' misconstruing her bruises as proof of his love. Ultimately, it is never fully established what motivates Bonnie, deep in her bones, to live such a reckless, unfulfilled life.