I have a confession. You have probably noticed, but here goes. When I find an author that I like, I read everything they have written and will write in the future.
It has been said that we all have our own demons to face and we can either fight or flee. For the main characters in this story, the demons seem to be close to winning. Close, but not quite victorious.
Alex Craft’s demons rule her life. Her older sister, Anna had always been her protector. She protected Alex from the world and from their alcoholic mother. Alex’s mother saw only her absent father in Alex and poured on to her all the anger that she could not show to her AWOL husband. But Anna was murdered and Alex bears the burden of her death as an albatross around her neck. She talks to no one. She has no friends. She goes to school, comes home, eats, studies, reads, and sleeps and does it again the next day. She has a mere existence, not a life.
Jack’s demons lie in the poverty that his parents can not overcome. He loves them, knows they do everything they can to make life better, but there is just no getting ahead. So leaving this town by way of a college scholarship is the demon that dominates his need to be the best in athletics, in classes, in life. Branley, his best friend since childhood knows everything about him and even though other people come in and out of their lives, Branley is one of the constants in Jack’s life, even when he knows it isn’t for the best.
Peekay’s demons are in her nickname. She is a “PK” or Preacher’s Kid. Peekay has a strong faith but living up to being a PK in a very small town where everyone knows your business is extremely difficult. And when her long-time boyfriend Adam leaves her for Branley, she is back to just being Peekay, having lost the title of Adam’s girlfriend. Her biggest demon is that she doesn’t allow herself to be who she is, just who everyone else needs her to be.
Dark and emotionally challenging with some brutality, but with a lesson in vengeance, forgiveness, and acceptance the story of Alex, Jack and Peekay’s battle against their demons is a book that everyone needs to read. Whatever your own demons, this book shows how cathartic it can be to rid yourself of your demons, even if the cost of doing so is beyond what you can imagine or think you can handle.
When you consider the extreme contrast in setting, characters, and plot between this book and A Madness so Discreet, it is impossible to compare one to the other and to ensure that if you like one of them that you will like the other. However, McGinnis’ writing is quite mesmerizing. “Every day the sun rises and the wind bottle empties and his sits there wondering where his life went wrong until it sets again.” Her writing is beautiful, even when the subject isn’t. This is absolutely an author I will continue to read.
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