I love reading, and as a writer I like to broaden my scope by reading outside of my comfort zone, so that I can learn more about my craft.
Book – Boys of the Fatherless
Author – David Riggins
Star rating - ★★★★★
Plot – good, life story more than novel
Characters – realistic to the point of hitting a sore spot
Movie Potential – ★★★★★ – probably something like Stand By Me
Ease of reading – very easy to read
Cover - ✔ Perfect
Suitable Title - ✔
Would I read it again - Yes
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
First off, let me just say that I'm really grateful to David for contacting me, regarding this book. I saw that it was part of the Goodreads First Reads a long time ago and thought it looked interesting, so I entered to win it and added it to my TBR list. I didn't win, but David contacted me this week, because it was a TBR of mine, and asked if I'd like to review it. I jumped at the chance.
Having been warned this was newly edited and rewritten, I started reading it with high expectations. I wasn't disappointed. Although I didn't read the original version, I can see that this is a really clean edition, with very few mistakes, if any.
“If losing my father was my darkest hour then finding Sarah was my light.”
Abandoned by his father, Danny Roberts struggles to find his way through the confusion of adolescence and developing sexuality. Danny finds comfort in the words of Darius, the man that becomes his mentor and discovers true love in the green eyes of Sarah but not every story has a happy ending and the citizens of Fatherless may have to wait a generation for their freedom.
I'll admit, I read this in one sitting, though I'd only intended to read the 1st chapter. I was supposed to be working, but thought I'd take a break to start the book and see how it went. I didn't put it down until halfway through, when my eyes needed a break. Then, suitably rested, I was right back at it until the last page.
David warned me that this was considered a one-sitting read, but I wasn't convinced, because I'm generally a slow reader. I like to soak in the story, let it percolate and settle. I didn't have a choice with this one; I was fascinated by the storytelling and Danny's story.
I love that this is a Dystopian novel, with an alternative world and gives a sense of adventure, without getting too crazy with the visuals or world-building. Everything is nicely dropped into the story when it's important, rather than thrown at you, right at the beginning.
The plot reminded me a lot of The Belief in Angels, which I reviewed last year. It's told in the same 1st person, contemporary way, with that nostalgic storytelling that I'm really learning to love. These are the only two books I've read that do this style of writing any justice. It feels connected, yet allows for enough distance to remind me that we're looking into the past and waiting for the final revelation to return to the events of the present, briefly mentioned at the beginning of the book. And when we return to that present, we're vaguely aware of the mounting knowledge that this book will not have a happy ending, in the traditional sense.
Yet, I found myself smiling at the end, while crying. There was a happy ending, in part; a happiness that doesn't come from a Happily Ever After or even a Happily For Now, but the kind that comes with knowing that the story went where it was supposed to go. This was how it was always meant to be.
I love Danny. He's a normal kid, with a normal, messed up life and normal, weird friends. I love everything about him and his life. I love that he's strong, without being mean or brutal; that he's sensitive, without being a cry-baby. I love that he suffered, but he's come through it like a trooper and tried to make the most of his life.
Truthfully, I feel sorry for Danny, for what happened when he was little, but he's learned to harden himself against the dangers and violence of this new world, without letting it steal his soul. I really feel his pain and the sorrow of losing his dad, while still detecting a hint of hope that one day he might come back.
I love his building relationship with Darius, that he's sceptical at first, not sure what's really going on and that there are hints of the truth in places, without giving away the secret. I love that Danny has solid friends in Sam and Jessie, for a while, and that they all love and support each other, though they're all misfits in some way.
I can't tell you much about Danny's story, because I honestly can't think of what to say, after finishing it just a moment ago. There's nothing I can say about his tale that wouldn't be giving the story away. So, trust me, go buy it and read it, then you'll know what I mean.
Here's my favourite quote of the entire book :
“I was still skeptical of his intentions but something inside me was missing. There is a bond that a boy shared with his father that when broken, whether by death or abandonment, cannot be healed. All the little things like learning to shave and how to tie a tie, learning to be a man and everything that implies are missed and although these things seem trivial, collectively they make a man.”
Reviewing this book is really difficult for me, because it's not your normal novel. It's not even your normal story. It's tough, heartbreaking and it hits you where it hurts, without you even knowing it, until you're crying and wondering which of the last four god-awful events you just read made you start.
And yes, this book made me cry.
The ending was...perfection. There really isn't another word for it.
The entire book is a slow build. It's like a warm blanket, on a freezing cold day. At first, you're not sure if it's doing much good in warming you up, because you're not sure where the story is going and you're coming into it cold, with no knowledge of the background or characters. But then you start to feel the heat and the love for the story gradually building. It begins small, with a desire to just keep turning one more page, to just get to the end of the chapter, before you put it down. Then, before you know it, you're snuggled up in your blanket, warm and toasty, comfortably settled and in love with the story. You had no choice; the minute you put that blanket on, the minute you opened that first page, you were a goner.
When I started writing my review, I'd only gotten halfway through the book and already rated it a 4 star read. Now, having finished, I'm bumping it up to 5. I don't care if there are one or two spelling/grammar issues, which happen in all amazing books. What matters is the story, the heart, and the craft of the book. I can't even say writing, because that's not what this book is. It's a piece of David C. Riggin's heart, put on paper, to share with the world. And I, for one, am grateful.
Thank you. I'll be first in line for book 2.