A skilfully written, devastating and heartbreaking story about missed opportunities, regrets and second chances
I'm not a religious person, but I'm gonna rate and review this book regardless of my beliefs, or rather non-beliefs. This book is brilliant. Both the story and the writing. We're following Andrew, an autistic boy. Life dealt really shitty cards for him. He lost all of his loved ones around him, when finally at the age of 14, he couldn't take it anymore. Meanwhile, there's another boy, Kiernan, they are the same age. Growing up, they locked eyes several times, but didn't actually met each other. And when Kiernan at last gathers the courage to take action, it's already too late. Andrew's careless act started a ripple effect, which affected Kiernan and his loved ones greatly. From then on, there was a lot of hurt and sadness. I couldn't believe what I was reading. I cried from start to finish, with a little breathing time in the middle, but it was torture. “When your world turns darkest, let your courage shine forth,” he said. “Ask for help—from anyone, everyone. Sometimes it’s the bravest thing you can do.” I started reading it around a month ago, but I had to stop several times for several reasons. One, because of the religious stuff. There are ghost, or spirits, whatever you wanna call them, who came back to give advice and guide. And I'm not a religious person at all, I'm not a believer. And even the wording and the vibe of this book is celestial. But I'd like to believe that I'm the kind of reader who can put aside her personal beliefs and preferences and enjoy a book; and maybe even go into it with an open mind. I'm not saying this story changed me, I'm not sure a book can do that, or if it can then this would certainly be it. Two, because it's insanely emotional. Sad and truly heartbreaking. I didn't even get to the prologue (there's a letter before it) and I was already crying. Granted, it was a Monday afternoon, and such as, it was already a shitty day and I only needed a little nudge to burst into tears. Three , this book is just too skillfully written. It's beautiful, but also complex and at the beginning I struggled to understand what's going on. Who's who, which POV am I reading right now, when are we, which timeline? I didn't want to ruin this creation by not understanding it. So I stopped. Again. Then I realized the problem. I'm used to books that are written in linear narrative, this however is completely different. Forgive me, I might not know the correct term, but I try to describe it. The narrator of the story is a 14-year-old boy, he's the brother of one of the MC's. He tells us the events from each character's POV in third person, but he also adds some of he's own experience and thoughts in first person. And sometimes we jump into one of a not so significant character's head, like a police officer, or school teachers, or the Moms, and those couple paragraphs are in first person. There's actually one timeline, but we're jumping from one place to another, from one character to another. Casey, the narrator boy, tells us what happened to each character in the same time period. Sometimes I didn't know who's head I was in, cause there wasn't a name mentioned. Confusing, I know. And because I'm not used to this kind of writing, I was utterly lost. But then I just kept going in hope that something would click in my head, and thankfully I didn't have to wait long, I just needed one answer to an important question, and finally I was able to connect the dots. I was around 20% at the time. From then on it was all clear, but eventually I did go back to read the beginning again in case I missed something. I don't think I ever read anything like this before. It's beautiful and compelling. This is one of those books, that you read once, and never again, because it's too much. Okay, "never" might be an exaggeration. This is a YA story, there's no touching or kissing. But there is abuse (the worst of it off-page) and self-harm (on-page, but not detailed). For me this book was about missed opportunities, regrets and second chances.