The Killing Jar
Drugs are comparable to a spider web with dewdrops. One may stop and reach out to touch it but as your fingers make contact with the slivery threads, the spider’s design would be gone forever and all you’re left with is a muddled mess of bunched up web.
Taking drugs is like a butterfly, preserved and pinned to the wax bottom of a see-through jar. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? You know better than to unscrew that rusty lid and reach in to take that Morpho Pelaides but oh no, you touched it and now that butterfly is crumpled, the sight of it lost forever. The remnants of its dilapidated wings powder your hands like a evidence to a murder… all because you couldn’t resist.
The Killing Jar by Nicola Monaghan was published in 2006. Its events are partially based and inspired by the people she knew back in the small Nottingham estate that she once lived in.
The Killing Jar is Kerrie-Ann’s story. She’s a headstrong girl with a knack at asking questions almost endlessly. She’s into science and her dream? Well, she wants to travel to the rainforest to be an entomologist. At five years old, a father missing in action and her mom, a junkie, Kerrie-Ann is left in the care of her odd neighbor, Mrs Ivanovich. She has shown Kerrie-Ann how to catch butterflies, how to take care of them and with a concoction of formalin, kill them in jars. Mrs. Ivanovich dies with the assistance of Kerrie-Ann, who helped her set up bowls of formalin in Mrs. Ivanovich’s house.
By ten years old, young Kerrie-Ann has already stationed herself at school grounds, selling Speed by the gum-full to children her age. Not long after, she falls prey to a deranged customer who steals her stash and leaves her on the ground with a bleeding mouth.
Her “uncle”, a bloke her mom was sleeping with for her supply at the time decidedly gives Kerri-Ann a needle prick to relieve her of her pain.
Thus, her downwards spiral into a life colorfully-laced with pills, needle shots, and disco biscuits.
By thirteen, she gets pregnant. By thirteen, she manages to get an abortion without realizing it would kill her baby.
At fourteen, she manages to drug the unsympathetic father of her never-to-be born child. All in a day’s work, right?
But then she falls in love with Mark, her drug brother from when she was ten years old and everything starts to seem alright as they rave and party and get wasted.
When Mark starts doing heroin, Kerrie-Ann starts to rethink her decisions.
The Killing Jar isn’t another story about drugs where the protagonist is unaware of her decisions. Kerrie-Ann knows what she’s doing and she sees the beauty of the high. She knows that within a pill of Ecstasy, your inhibitions vanish into thin air.
With Ecstasy, you are shrouded with synthetic love, one that does not limit itself only to the people that you know. Every touch, every pull is sexy.
The Killing Jar is filled with extremely vivid descriptions about Kerrie-Ann’s misadventures with Speed, Ecstasy, Shrooms and Cocaine. You might think that reading a book about such a controversial topic would leave you despising the main protagonist. It has quite the opposite effect. As Kerrie-Ann is taken away from her family because of a drug deal gone wrong, you find yourself sympathizing with her as she goes through a whole lot of challenges, also in turn, rejoicing through her triumphs.
The Killing Jar does not have the typical happy-ending where the drug-involved individual miraculously decides to clean up her act and willingly check herself into rehab. The big reunion after the supposed rehabilitation does not happen. There was no happy family to welcome her home.
The best part about this book other than its unpredictability is how the author has managed to create every page and every chapter without the self pity that every other protagonist might have if she were faced with the numerous challenges Kerrie-Ann had to deal with to live.
Nicola Monaghan’s writing in the Killing Jar is vibrant and honest to the point of endearing. She knows no compromise on unpleasantry and her and her narrative, though unorthodox, is grippingly addictive. She does not fail to show that love is an emotion that overshadows all darkness and that love can bloom even in the most poisoned of places. For all those with insatiable curiosity, this is a must read. This book perfectly highlights the danger of illegal substances to the human body and to one’s cognitive functions.
This book teaches you to second guess risky behavior. It is grounding read that is relatable to everyone, regardless of its haggard theme of drugs, sex and murder.
Nicola Monaghan clearly implies the fact that no matter how bleak and impossible your situation may be, there is always light at the end of every tunnel. You have to choose to keep going to reach release. Hope is always at the bottom where things may deem unreachable.