Published June 30, 2016
I had serious doubts that I was going to be able to handle this book. The subject matter is emotional and tragic.
Seven years ago, Danny Simpson and Graham Harris committed a crime so atrocious that it completely destroyed three families. What made this worse was that they were only 11 years old when they committed this horrific crime. Now that they are eighteen-years-old, they are being released. But even though they are released will they truly be free? Are new lives and new names enough to keep them safe from people who will never forget what they have done? Do they deserve to feel safe?
A parents worse nightmare is losing a child under any circumstances. But how can you grieve or survive when you are never left in peace by the public, the press and even your own thoughts. How often does a relationship survive the loss of a child?
Can you ever truly be happy again?
*****The following may contain very minor spoilers******
“Her biggest fear was happiness. Happiness led to complacency and she’d been there before. Happiness brought with it guilt”
In 1993 Rachel McKenna’s nightmare starts the moment she let go of her son, Benjamin’s hand. In the next moment someone else takes his hand and suddenly he’s gone. Rachel blames herself. She was the one who took Benjamin shopping and had let go of his hand for the briefest of moments. She thinks if she had only gone to the corner market instead, then her life with Benjamin would be intact.
What happens to everyone in the aftermath of such a heinous crime?
Years later Rachel is a mother again. But her anxiety and need for control rules her family’s life.
Matthew Allen spends all of his time trying to find the boys after they are released. What will he do if he does find them?
I found there were quite a few times that I felt a bit lost as the novel moved from the past to the present. I often re-read parts to help figure out what was happening. I really wanted to understand the characters better, but I had a hard time remembering who was who, especially with the name changes. I felt like the author did try to help the reader keep things straight by labeling the chapters with the names, places and dates etc. but it could still be a bit confusing at times and I would have to refer back. Maybe it was just me but I really felt confused about who did what.
Some parts of this book made me really uncomfortable but I appreciate that the author didn’t go overboard with the descriptions of the violence. Of course things happened that were extremely upsetting and there was some violence, but I didn’t feel like the author was glorifying gratuitous violence.
One of the characters was writing an article about these boys and his research brought up so any different emotions for me. When a crime like this happens it changes what we feel about childhood innocence. I thought a lot about nature vs. nurture and it made me wonder how a child that never learned empathy (because it was never shown to them) could possibly succeed in this world.
“Killing was primal. Not killing was a product of an amygdala-friendly environment and a complex web of social conditioning”
This was a good and thought-provoking debut novel. A very interesting and emotional read. It made me think about how justice system works (and doesn’t work) especially when it comes to children.
A heartbreaking read with many powerful messages.
Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.