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I wanted to like this one

Finding Jake - Bryan P. Reardon

Finding Jake is the story of a stay-at-home dad whose teenage son is involved in a school shooting. The chapters alternate between flashbacks showing Jake as he grows up, and chapters in the present as the dad learns what happened at the school and searches for his son. 

 

I really wanted (and expected) to like this one, but unfortunately, it never landed for me. The description on Amazon said it had a surprise ending, which is why I kept reading it, but to my deep disappointment the ending was neither good nor surprising. It also dragged on way too long (spoiler alert: the dad adopts a puppy at the end). 

 

The writing is overwrought and full of misused words and clumsy metaphors that made me doubt the talents of both the writer and his editor (who surely saw $$ over a hot-topic plot and didn't do much work on the manuscript). The dad complains about the mailman looking at him "askew" (did he mean askance?) when he mows the lawn in the middle of the day and there are sentences like this gem: 

 

It was as if the cloying progress of time had no effect.

 

...Cloying? I'd honestly be interested in hearing what the author had in mind there.  

 

This was another bizarre and overly dramatic moment: 

 

The man in the golf shirt appears within a foot of the moving car. The brightness of the fabric grasps me like a monster's claws, pulling my soul away.

 

The book is crammed full of writing like this. A Kindle search tells me the narrator blathers on about things happening to his soul 16 times, which in my opinion is 14 or 15 times too many for a secular novel. 

 

The narrator of this story is none too bright, and the details of the crime and the cops' behavior didn't ring true at all. I get that this isn't a police procedural, but the book badly needed to be grounded in reality to offset its copious amounts of purple prose. The main plot hole is that people suspect Jake of being involved in the school shooting because he's seen running away from the school before the shooting happens. Can someone please explain the logic in that? 

 

Later, the cops haul the narrator into the station and question him because they spot a creepy-looking doll in the back of his car. How does this make sense? The doll, which the main character finds hanging in an abandoned church, is treated by everyone like a smoking gun. I guess by that logic I should have been given a psych evaluation when I cut my Barbie's hair as a kid. 

 

Anyway. There's something terribly earnest about this novel, which leads me to believe that the author is a nice person. I feel bad for not liking his book more, but I think his editor did him a disservice by publishing his story in its current state. The publicity machine around Finding Jake is fairly ridiculous--it's a story that simply cannot support its weighty subject matter.