Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. ebook. To be published February 24, 2015. William Morrow (HarperCollins).
When Simon’s son Jake was born, he became a stay-at-home dad so his attorney wife Rachel could continue working. When his daughter Laney joined the family Simon’s life became fuller as he strove to be a good dad, take care of the household, deal with his feelings of insecurity and help his children become productive citizens.
Over the years, Simon obsesses about Jake’s withdrawal from the neighborhood kids’ play dates, sensing Jake’s need to be quiet and alone, but silently wishing he were as outgoing as Laney. With Rachel spending more and more time at the office, and Simon working hard with the children, they became as two ships passing in the night.
All changed the day Simon got a phone call that there had been a shooting at the high school. Afraid for Jake and Laney, he races to the school with all the other parents only to find out there had been a massacre and Jake is missing. As more and more children get taken away from the scene, Simon waits in the parent holding area holding Jake up to the light and thinking about his son.
As he recalls Jake’s growing up years, he wonders if there was anything he could have done to make a difference in what had just happened. Is Jake guilty of such a crime? Could Jake have partnered with his withdrawn friend, who Simon disliked from the beginning, to create such a horror at school? Fear, hope, dismay, anger, terror and determination course through Simon’s mind as he grapples with the events of the past and present. His steadfastness culminates in the goal of doing what no police officer has been able to do: find Jake. Perhaps then he can get answers to the questions gnawing at his mind causing him to doubt everything he’d once held dear.
This amazing book had me spellbound from the moment I started to read. Though told from the point of view of an adult, the subject matter is definitely one that needs to be discussed with high school students so as to help students see reasons why teenagers decide to become mass murderers at school and, perhaps, help to avoid future occurrences.
Highly recommended for ages 16 and older, including adults.