(French Pulp Éditions, 400 pages, 2018)
July 2006: Handsome and The Weasel are killed in a shooting as the result of a burglary gone wrong, leaving She, an unnamed protagonist, to be sentenced to fifteen years in prison for the death of an old man.
November 5, 2018: Virginie, a transgender woman, finds a new job at The Center, an unforgiving and cruel hospice home for “very, very old” patients, complete with an abusive staff and barricaded windows.
1988: The Woman tries desperately to reach her husband, who is busy in an “important business meeting” with his new mistress. Her water breaks and she faints, hearing her neighbor rush to help her as she loses consciousness.
Jacques Saussey follows these three distinct timelines throughout his latest novel, Trapped. In 2006, She must survive in a vicious and violent prison, attacked and raped by her fellow inmates. In 2018, as Virginie embarks on her new job, her co-workers greet her with disgust and contempt. In 1988, The Woman becomes Mother, a woman struggling to raise her beautiful baby boy. Father, an abusive womanizer, leaves the child one afternoon screaming in the nursery, until he all but chokes between the bars of his cradle. One day, when Mother and Father are out, the little boy sneaks into Mother’s closet, puts on one of Mother’s bras, looks in the mirror, and comes to a stunning revelation: “I am Virginie.”
In a surprising turn of events, the three timelines converge, and we finally meet our protagonist in a brave moment of self-declaration and affirmation. Reviled and rejected by her parents, her doctors, and the world around her, Virginie struggles with constant pain and self-hatred. Only when she meets her cellmate’s father, who helps release her from prison and enlists her in his mission to avenge his second daughter’s death, is she able to find redemption.
Virginie strives to survive in a society that refuses to accept or begin to understand what it means to be transgender, how it feels to be trapped in a body you feel is not your own. As Virginie puts it, “Nature made a mistake.” Saussey, encouraged and inspired by his niece, Aurore, who herself transitioned in 2015, creates in Virginie a strong and unrelenting young woman determined to painfully bend each cell bar that binds her, and forge her own place in the world on her own terms.
Jacques Saussey is an acclaimed crime novel writer. He specializes in creating detailed and profound characters, and setting them in riveting situations.