Published August 11, 2015
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read this book late last year and it’s one that has stayed with me ever since. In my opinion a very important book that needs to be read.
Even Hyde feels that despite his parents divorce in 2001, he’s doing fine. The only thing that does bother him is that he is separated from his older brother, Gabe. Even chose to live with his successful father in California while his brother continues to live with their highly emotional mother in Cucamonga.
When Gabe visits Even and their father on the weekend Even can sense that his brother is angry and seems to feel like he has been left behind. But both boys enjoy the freedom to come and go as they please as there is little to no supervision.
Although Even starts to notice Gabe’s behavior grow increasingly worse he prefers to concentrate on the brother he knows well. Gabe can be funny, charming, sensitive and very funny. He doesn’t want to think about the ugly side of his brother, the horrible things he can say to his friends and when he uses his intelligence in such a bullying manner. He prefers to blame his brothers friends for their bad influence. Although he wants to ignore it when Gabe starts to skip school more and is smoking weed daily, there comes the day when he can’t rationalize Gabe’s behavior any longer.
When Gabe commits a crime so horrible and sickening Even doesn’t know if he will ever be able to forgive him.
*****Possibly some very minor spoilers*****
Even has a hard time recounting what happened on the Fourth of July weekend. A jumble of images in his head it’s nearly impossible for him to put into words. This novel is Even’s point of view as he recounts the events that occurred after his older brother, Gabe and two friends videotape themselves brutally raping an unconscious girl. When the video ends up in Even’s possession he struggles with the decision of what to do with the tape.
I could feel Even’s anxiety and how overwhelmed he was with the what he knew. He truly wanted to do what was right but he wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. You could just sense the inner struggle back-and-forth of what to do. The author outlined his thought process so well. For example when he realized that what he saw could never be unseen. That he was now in a place where he didn’t entirely trust his father to do the right thing if he went to him with the information.
It was mentioned how people often say that if their loved one committed crimes they would be quick to turn them in no matter what. Until you’re in that position in my opinion how could you possibly know what you would do? Can family loyalty persuade us to make the wrong decision? As I continued to read I wasn’t sure what Even was going to do.
I am sure a lot of people have a time in their life where they wish they could unsee or unknow something but at the same time realizing that is not possible. Knowing you have a responsibility to do something, to do what’s right even if it means your life is irrevocably changed as well.
Though this book was sometimes difficult to read I feel that it’s a very important book that helps bring attention to many important issues. I didn’t know when I first started to read that the book IS actually based on a real crime that occurred in Orange County California about 10 years ago. Disgusting how in many cases wealth can affect proper justice from happening. Some of the descriptions of the trial, the lawyers, the media and victim blaming enraged and horrified me.
I really like Victoria Patterson’s style of writing. The book is well written, easy to keep up with, and the story flows along smoothly.
A dark and emotional read but one that I would still highly recommend.