Achingly hypnotic that will make your heart bleed.
The first words entice the reader to invest in the arduous journey of this girl lost, a sister aching for her older brother in a mess up reality that won’t go away. Jaycee idolized her older brother Jake, his bravery during wild stunts that made him a hero to his friends and his carefree attitude that swept all her cares away. Back then, she’d been in junior high and he’d been an invincible senior in high school. But when he’s struck down during one of his attention-grabbing feats, the truth of Jake the person – not the big brother – slams into her. And she’s not ready for it.
Caught between the world of Jake’s untimely absence and her refusal to face it for the past five years, Jaycee teeters on a tightrope ready to snap at any moment – a wish that could not come soon enough for her. The survivor guilt consumes her. But there are others to think of like her father, who reaches out to her everyday, and the few friends she hasn’t yet pushed away. And even an old friend of Jake’s who meets her each year on the anniversary of Jake’s death.
When she discovers her brother’s journal and a map he created to record his many attempts at mischief, Jaycee finally finds a purpose. She’s going to relive her brother’s days, letter by letter, note by note. It becomes obvious to the reader that this is her attempt to remain close to him, but in reality it is much more. Jaycee discovers pieces of herself that she’d buried so long ago and in doing so gains a readiness to see Jake for his true self – a brother she could love, but not a hero and not always a good friend. Other relationships grow and transform in ways she would never have imagined at the start of her map journey, but also changes she’ll either need to live with or follow in her brother’s footsteps. In the end, only she can decide … just like each of us.
I breathed in the foul air of this dying place and closed my eyes, not even caring that Zach was staring. I drew my brother in my thoughts, bare feet first. Then hairy legs in shorts and a baggy, ripped T-shirt. But when I got the his face, I couldn’t remember the exact angles. I gasped and reached out. I wound a fist up in the front of Zach’s shirt. “What are my eyes like?”
“The shape!” I whispered.
“I dunno! Eye shaped? Oval?”
“My brother had the same eyes,” I said, but I didn’t know that for sure all of a sudden. (11% Kindle)
The writing flows with a grunge undertone yet a desperate longing shrouded in sarcasm. The rawness of it latched on to my emotions and prodded my own personal experiences. Needless to say, I kept reading. Characters are wonderfully developed to the point a few only speak through illustrations, which are brilliant by-the-way. The world the writer creates fits each character. Despite giving me a pause or two during the first few chapters, the structure of the story is magnificently designed. It really is. This is my sort of story: real, edgy, cutting, and not afraid to chew the characters up and then spit them out. Their insides revealed the what, where, how, and most importantly, the why this tale needed to be told.
To all those taken from us much too young, no matter their fault or another’s, I join Jaycee in saying You were here.