Author: Swati Avasthi
This new young adult book is a journey into the pain and struggle of a domestic violence situation. However, the really engrossing part of the story, is the aftermath. How does a child, raised by someone who hits before speaking, grow up to become a good person who doesn’t raise his fists as soon as drama unfolds?
Jace is a young man of sixteen who’s had enough. He’s always been his father’s favorite over the years, and watched his father unmercifully harm his older brother and mother right before his eyes. His father is a judge – a respected man in their town – but with a temper so harsh that the family is lucky to still be alive. His older brother, Christian, has been long gone for quite a while. In fact, Christian left a note in the family’s mailbox that read, If you try to find me, I’ll testify. Christian had then run away from the horrible home, leaving his younger brother to deal with the monster that sired them.
As we begin our story, Jace is in his car racing across the country to find his brother. He’s had enough; his bruises are immense and his split-lip is still bleeding – compliments of a father who has turned against him. He is beyond worried about his mother, wishing with all his heart that he could’ve gotten her out of that house of horrors and brought her with him into a new, peaceful life.
Jace finds Christian. Christian is a med student who has changed his name, made a new life for himself, and has a girlfriend named Miriam living in the apartment next door who he truly cares about. Of course, he has never told Miriam about the terrible pain and agony from his past, and he didn’t ever want her to find out. Enter Jace…
Jace, in a way, holds anger for his brother for ditching him in the first place. Ever since his brother left, Christian has made no attempt to call or even write him a letter – and he’s angry about it. But Christian does let him move in – out of guilt, most likely – with the rules very clear that Jace cannot dial home from his phone; there is no way he wants his father - the nightmare of his life – to reappear. Jace is frightened for Mom and does make the one call, putting into “play” a very frightening situation for the family.
This book deals with so many facets of what to do and what not to do. It explores the reason why a wife has a tendency to stay with her punisher, no matter what – choosing to live in terror as long as her children can be free. This book also does very well with exploring the DNA and generational passing of brutality from father to son; how a son who loathes his father can somehow – against everything he believes in – become the one man he despises.
I’m not sure if this is a good book for children, although children do seem to be getting much more mature over time. In fact, young adults trying to turn themselves into the world’s most beloved vampires seems to account for a great number of suicides lately – which I will never understand. I am one of those people who shudder when I think that children are caught in a situation such as this one – even though I know we don’t live in Wonderland, and there are people out there who should be taken off this planet. Emotions that this book will release will run the spectrum from hope to absolute anger at the world and some of the people in it – but it is a good, solid read and the writer has certainly done herself proud.