by Bryan Reardon
Synopsis: For sixteen years, Simon Connelly's successful wife has gone to her law office each day, while he has stayed home to raise their children. Though Simon has loved taking care of Jake and Laney, it has cost him a part of himself, and has made him an anomaly in his pretty, suburban neighborhood-the only stay-at-home dad among a tight circle of mothers.
Shepherding them through childhood, the angst-ridden father has tried to do the best for the kids, even if he often second-guesses his choices. For sunny outgoing Lacey, it's been easy. But quiet Jake has always preferred the company of his books or his sister to playdates and organized sports. Now that they are in high school, Simon should feel more relaxed, but he doesn't. He's seen the statistics, read the headlines.
Then, on a warm November day, he receives a text: There has been a shooting at the high school.
Racing to the rendezvous point, Simon is forced to wait with scores of other anxious fathers and tearful mothers, overwhelmed by the disturbing questions running through his head. How many victims were there? Why did this happen? One by one, parents are reunited with their children. Their numbers dwindle, until Simon is alone. Lacey has gone home with her mom. Jake is the only child missing.
As his worst nightmare unfolds, Simon begins to obsess over the past, searching for answers, for hope, for the memory of the boy he raised, for the mistakes he must have made for the reasons everything came to this. Where is Jake? What happened in those final moments? Is it possible he doesn't really know his son? Or he knows him better than he thought? Jake couldn't have done this-or could he?
As rumors being to ricochet, amplified by an invasive media, Simon must find answers. But there is only one way to understand what has happened...he must find Jake.
from the book jacket
Review: This book was addicting, I read it in about a day and a half. I could not put it down until I knew what happened with Jake although it was a hard book to read. It is difficult to read about violence in schools and violence against our children and the end made me really cry. Not just tear up but really emotionally cry (I'm just about in tears even writing this). While I've cried at other books, this one really got to me probably because it seemed so realistic and something that could hit close to home. With that said, this book is not for everyone as it might be too upsetting for some.
The chapters in this book alternate between the present time right after the school shooting and a look back at Jake's life from his father's eyes. As the book goes on, the chapters about Jake's childhood start reflecting on Simon's insecurities about how he raised Jake and doubt starts to creep into Simon's mind as to Jake's innocence and we as readers start to doubt as well. Before I got to the end, I started to think that there were too many stereotypes about the profiles of school shooters but once I finished the book, I realized why the author did what he did. There was a preachy, PSA section of the book which I don't think added to the book but overall this was such a compelling, albeit emotional, read.
Rating: 4.5 stars