From death row, a young man navigates prison and writes to his best friend in this powerful work of realistic fiction.
A poignant story of loyalty, abuse, and poverty is woven throughout a narrative that alternates between flashbacks to Luke and Toby’s senior year of high school (presented from their perspectives in the third person) and the present-day experience of Luke’s incarceration (told in first person through his letters to Toby). This structure allows the novel to build a slow and gripping tension as it progresses, revealing the horrific events that led to Luke’s arrest only at the very end, as the other details of the boys’ lives naturally unfold. Both are seemingly white. The two struggle to guard their friendship fiercely even as Toby becomes sexually involved with a likable but troubled young woman and Luke falls for a different girl. The two have been lifelong friends, supporting each other through family struggles—Toby’s with a physically abusive father and Luke’s with a neglectful mother who leaves him playing a parental role to his two younger brothers. Readers will easily empathize with quiet, tightly controlled Luke, who’s college-bound on a wrestling scholarship, and goofy, self-effacing Toby.
This compassionate and beautifully rendered novel packs an emotional punch. (Fiction. 14-18)