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{November 8, 2013}   {Review} In the Blood by Sara Hantz

18657754From Goodreads: For seventeen years Jed Franklin’s life was normal. Then his father was charged with the abuse and murder of four young boys and normal became a nightmare.

His mom’s practically a walking zombie, he’s lost most of his friends, and the press camps out on his lawn. The only things that keep him sane are his little sis; his best friend and dream girl, Summer; and the alcohol he stashes in his room. But after Jed wakes up from a total blackout to discover a local kid has gone missing—a kid he was last seen talking to—he’s forced to face his greatest fear: that he could somehow be responsible.

In a life that’s spiraled out of control, Jed must decide if he chooses his own destiny with Summer by his side or if the violent urges that plagued his father are truly in the blood…

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From the very first chapter, I was drawn into this story with its short but powerful introduction to the subject, immediately showing Jeb’s disdain for his father, a man he thought he knew, but who ultimately fooled everyone around him. In the Blood deals with some very heavy topics, pedophilia being the main one, and Hantz’s look into the life of a young man shattered by his father’s past is one that I feel is extremely well written.  I cannot imagine how painful and awful a realization that a parent is capable of committing such evil deeds would be to a child, but I feel that Hantz portrayal of the epic inward battles that Jed faces throughout the novel are extremely real.  Imagine finding out the man you’ve idolized your entire life is a murdering pedophile. Now imagine that the entire community turns their back on you, the child, because they believe you are capable of the same; they believe you knew what your father was doing and that maybe you were a part of it.  Imagine being bullied and finding notes in your locker that tell you it’s only a matter of time before you become your father—that you’d be better off dead.  This is Jeb’s life as it spirals out of control.  With a parent who he despises on trial, and a unresponsive parent idling at home, Jeb truly feels he’s alone, and as the bullying and his research of pedophilia get to him, his fear of becoming like his father begins to permeate his life.

Although I certainly don’t agree with many of Jed’s decisions in this novel, and many a time I wanted to reach through the pages and shake him, I believe that his character is true to life.  Teenagers don’t always think things through—their brain is still developing, and impulse sometimes gets the better of them, especially when extreme stress and fear take over.  And this is what I see Jeb doing: pushing people away, fighting, drinking to drown his fears of becoming his father, and unfortunately, I find Hantz’s portrayal very realistic.

However, while the psychological aspects of this novel are very well done, there are some minor issues I had with the book.  For one, naming Jeb’s father Benjamin Franklin doesn’t make much sense to me.  Of all the fictional names available in the world, picking one that brings to mind a Founding Father every time it’s uttered, and giving it to a despicable pedophile, is not a great idea.  Likewise, I thought the ending was a bit too abrupt, and while I understand that readers are meant to piece the rest of it together, in a novel like this, where so much is at stake, I would have liked a cleaner break.  But, these small complaints aside, I enjoyed this book overall—it is an in-depth look at the human psyche and bullying, and I believe Hantz did a very good job with her presentation. Four stars.

4 stars

Entangled Teen has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel, via Netgalley.

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