Summary: When Eric’s friend longtime friend Sarah Byrnes stop speaking, he’s confused and desperate to help her. The only problem is no one knows why she stopped speaking, one theory revolves around the burns that mar her face and hands. Eric is not only worried about his friend, but as he finds out more about why she’s being silent he begins to question what friendship truly is. This is paralleled by discussions in his Contemporary American Thought class.
I love Chris Crutcher. I’ve read at least one or two of his other books and loved them as well. It also helps that I met the man in person thanks to my high school. He’s an amazing author and an amazing guy to talk to about books and just life in general. I’ve been slowly making my way through all his novels and this one lived up to the hype (my coworker intensely recommended it).
This is a story of abuse and bullying. But overall it is a story about friendship and how far one is willing to go for a friend in trouble. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t cry during this book, because it really hit close to home. Like Eric, I was bullied in middle school and before then about my weight. It’s still kind of a sore point for me. The other part that hit me was Sarah and her story. I have a friend who was in a similar if not worse situation and she also tried to commit suicide. There’s honestly no words that can capture the sense of loss when you think someone is about to give up and leave because they cannot cope with what was done to them. It’s so hard to watch them struggle and not be able to do anything or tell anyone. You hope that maybe you can help, but what if you make it worse by getting someone involved?
I think what saved me from collapsing into a ball of tears was Mark and Mautz and how much I HATED them. Especially Mautz, he was such a fucking asshole and he could get away with it because he had authority. I’ve dealt with these kinds of people and I know they will never change. For Mark there’s some hope. I was so frustrated with him and his hypocrisy, I wanted to slap him or throw something. His views are the complete opposite from mine so I did not like him. At the end, I did feel some compassion for him, but I also know people like him and they’ve got some thinking to do.
Ms. Lemry in this story is such a gem and I know teachers like her and I think my mom is similar to her as well. This story has such a wonderful cast of secondary characters between Jody, Ms. Lemry and Mr. Ellerby. The complexities to life they offered really made this story came alive for me. The adults’ compassion and Jody’s change of heart was so real and made me love this story so much more. I feel like I can’t completely explain how much I loved this book. I’m going to buy it ASAP and will probably reread it by the end of the month (rereads are rare for me).
I would recommend this book to literally everyone. If you’ve every struggled with belonging or felt excluded, read this book. If you have personal demons haunting you, read this book. If you are confused about your views, read this book. I feel like I can’t say this loud enough: READ THIS BOOK!