Structurally, the most immediately apparent conceit belongs to Thomas’s use of the third person ... It’s a recalibration that takes only a moment for the reader to attune to, but it’s one that reads as both precise and deeply thoughtful ... Thomas’s decision to weave his memoir with a steady tone and unwavering hand strips it of any sensationalist bent ... Late in the book, we find ourselves switching vantage points, from the third person of Joey’s boyhood to the second person of the author’s teenage years. The voice is left intact. Thomas’s prose remains supple, but shifting the narrative camera proves a valuable technique ... In championing the quotidian, with its everyday absence of exemplariness, Thomas really does accomplish the extraordinary. Sink is heavy. It’s a tough book to read. But it is honest.
Aging from about 8 to 12 on the page, Joey finds endless curiosity and meaning in video games and other adventures, including ones he illustrates himself; tales of vanquished and victorious creatures from hidden depths. A crucial, incomparable act of creation and undefeated imagination.
Maybe Thomas chose to write in third person as a way of buffering the misery and cruelty recounted here, but in a first-person narrative of a terrible childhood, the sheer persistence of the I can imply redemption. It takes rare courage to tell a story this harsh and unredeemed.