Even at his cousin’s wake, Jimmy maintains his snarky persona that so irritates his parents and others around him.
It is the day before the wake when Jimmy’s parents tell him that he must give a short eulogy for his 13-year-old cousin, Patrick. Immediately, Jimmy resists, as he can’t imagine any positive remarks he can make about Patrick, as Patrick had done nothing but ruin many pivotal moments in Jimmy’s life. “Patrick was the kind of guy who would kick your dog,” Jimmy explains to readers. “And not to see what the dog would do but what you would do.” Leading up to the time of the funeral, Jimmy reflects on different past experiences, times when Patrick always seemed to ruin every occasion. As the family gets closer to the actual funeral, these reflections help Jimmy to gain a more objective perspective of how troubled Patrick really was—not necessarily the intentionally destructive person Jimmy had painted Patrick to be. As Jimmy processes his memories, readers get an ever clearer understanding of a mentally ill child who desperately needs help but doesn’t get it. Schmitt simultaneously paints a realistic picture of a close but flawed family who must navigate the sudden death of a young family member and all the feelings that come with it. The book adheres to the white default.
A complicated, hard, and heartfelt look at a child’s mental illness. (Fiction. 10-14)