Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Barry Lyga
Publisher: Little, Brown
At age four, Sebastian Cody did the unthinkable: he picked up his father's loaded gun and shot his baby sister. Now, ten years later, he's contemplating firing a gun for the second time in his life, and for the last time. But his plans change when he makes an unexpected friend and discovers meaning he'd been missing. When his newfound peace comes crashing down, Sebastian battles with his guilt and his options for the future, recognizing for the first time how pain and anguish color his views of everyone in his life, and how the slight possibility of redemption shines a light into corners he thought must forever be in darkness.
This book is written in a stunning voice of a character who lives tangled in grief and guilt. The syntax of the story is a magnificent combination of beautiful, lyrical sentences and short bursts of thought. In what feels like a confessional, Sebastian's mind and heart are opened to the reader as to a trusted friend. He's a complex character, and readers discover intricacies of his story as he seems to uncover them himself. The subject matter (gun violence, guilt, suicidal ideation, divorce, racism) opens many significant doors, but doesn't attempt to tie them up with glib or easy answers. Sebastian's heartache feels horrible, real, relevant, and important.
*Contains moderate violence and mild language.