Wow! This book is going to be on My Must Read Book List.

Can we really escape turning out like our parents? You would have to think the odds are against you in this insular Southern town in Tennessee where ‘speaking in tongues’, drinking poison and snake handling seems to be tolerated.

Many families are struggling to make ends meet never mind coping with the emotional challenges highlighted by the three teenagers in their last year of highschool.

I’m not usually a fan of the POV changing chapter by chapter but it works here. It’s made easy to follow as the chapters are simply named by the characters but I didn’t realise that at first as the characterisation is so clear.

As usual I’m interested in opening lines and this one is a cracker!

There were things Dillard Wayne Early Jr dreaded more than the start of school at Forrestville High. Not many but a few.

Life is overwhelming for Dill (Dillard). I can’t imagine how he would cope if he didn’t have the friendship of Travis and Lydia.

Here is how Zentner introduces us to Travis – Halfway to the car, he stopped, raised a finger, and spun and ran back to the house, almost tripping over his feet.

… and Lydia – Her tousled smoky-blue hair – the colour of a faded November sky streaked with clouds – smelled like honey, fig and vetiver. He breathed it in. It made his head swim in a pleasant way.

Things only get worse for Dill. What could be worse that your mother blaming you for your paedophile Preacher father being in jail? Plenty.

Only time with Lydia keeps Dill going, but she will be leaving as soon as school finishes.

Dill watched Lydia out of the corner of his eye. The breeze blew her hair across her face. She wore the sunset as a flaming crown. Young and beautiful and luminous and alive, keeping the darkness at bay if only for that brief moment.

Life isn’t great for Travis either.

Travis just stood there and let the barb sink in, feeling deflated. He waited for his father to say just kidding or explain … Nothing. Just the reflection of the TV in his eyes.

They are all feeling the weight of the looming end of the school year and the changes it will bring. The trio head to the bridge out of town to leave their mark for posterity.

Dill thought for a second. He looked out at the river, at its eddies and swirls, the patterns forming on it’s surface and disappearing. He listened to the ordered chaos of its sounds… he was like a tuning fork, made to resonate at the frequency of this place, at this time.

This book is a heartbreaking  insight into the emotional turmoil facing many teens. I was up late with this book and became pretty tired and emotional myself!

Jeff Zentner was a recommendation from Natalie Hatch The Adolescent Brain at the CYA Conference when she spoke about the adolescent brain. I’m preparing myself for BookBoy’s future reading and emotional needs.

jeffzentnerbooks

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