All his teachers are sure certain that Evan Galloway can be the graduate who brings glory to small, ordinary St. Sebastian’s School.
As for Evan, however, he can’t be bothered anymore.
Since the shock of his young father’s suicide last spring, Evan no longer cares about the future. In fact, he believes that he spent the first fifteen years of his life living a lie. Despite his mother’s encouragement and the steadfast companionship of his best friend, Alexis, Evan is mired in rage and bitterness. Good memories seem ludicrous when the present holds no hope.
Then Evan’s grandmother hands him the key–literally, a key–to a locked trunk that his father hid when he was the same age as Evan is now. Digging into the trunk and the small-town secrets it uncovers, Evan can begin to face who his father really was, and why even the love of his son could not save him.
In a voice that resonates with the authenticity of grief, Steven Parlato tells a different kind of coming-of-age story, about a boy thrust into adulthood too soon, through the corridor of shame, disbelief, and finally…compassion.
This is one of those books that started out a bit slowly for me, and I was nervous that I wasn’t going to like it. Luckily, though the beginning was a little rough and a tad boring, making it hard for me to initially connect with the characters, it started to get better around the 20% mark. Up until this point, Evan is mainly just wallowing away in his pain, and rightfully so, but it wasn’t until the mystery began to come to the forefront that I really became enamored. And it just kept getting better from there, all the way to the very end, when I closed the book and sighed. It’s a book that touches you while you aren’t even aware it’s affecting you, and in my opinion, it’s 100% worth the read, and I’m so glad that my policy is to always finish a book.
Now, let’s discuss. This novel deals with sexual abuse. I’m just going to put it out there. You probably already had an inkling as to the topic, even if you didn’t already know from reading other reviews, but I think it’s important that you know, straight up, that sexual abuse is one of the main topic with which this novels deals. If you really aren’t comfortable with this topic, then you need to know about it prior to reading. I wish I had. Likewise, you need to know that there are some very graphic descriptions that will cleave your heart in two. I’m one of those readers that had an inkling that the novel might be about sexual abuse, but as I wasn’t sure, I dived right in, and I wasn’t ready, as it were. I had to mentally prepare myself, after the first revelation, for the rest of the novel as it’s a gruesome, gritty topic, and I personally tend to shy away from any novels that deal with rape and sexual abuse. I’m just not dying to read that type of literature, if you know what I mean, but in this instance, I’m glad I stuck it out. Parlato is a phenomenal writer, dealing with the gritty aspects of true evil that man so often enacts upon others. And Evan’s father was one of those poor children who experienced it. It’s not a happy tale, by any means, but it does give the reader hope, in the end, and though Evan’s father isn’t redeemed, nor is his abuser, Evan, himself, is able to come to terms with the situation and continue living, which is what makes this such a strong piece of literature.
I will admit, a lot of the depictions of Evan’s father made me ill. And I think it should make the reader ill. This is no walk in the park. But learning everything through Evan’s eyes, and piecing together the true atrocity, learning just how deep the betrayals went, well, that’s what really made this novel, for me. It is a harsh novel, but beautifully told, and one that will haunt me for a long time to come. I highly recommend it for the more mature adult reader. Four stars.
Merit Press was extremely gracious in allowing me to read a copy of this recent release, via Netgalley.