A young author begins to find his voice with a debut novel focused on the power of friendship.
Chris Walker is in a rough situation: His mom is a drunk, his older brother has disappeared and his dad died a decade ago, cursing the remaining Walkers to a life of substance abuse in order to cope. Even high-schooler Chris regularly self-medicates, alternating among beer, pot and Oxycontin he lifted from his mom. In fact, the only thing Chris seems to have in his favor is his friends: Dave, Nyle and Jamar. The four inseparable buddies hang out, drink and party whenever possible–normal teenage behavior. It always seemed that one couldn’t function without the other three. But author Moore, an 18-year-old recent high school graduate himself, quickly calls the boys’ bond into question, first through a series of unintentional slights and then through two nearly tragic events that shake the quartet’s belief in each other. First, a car crash caused by Chris in a haze of depression and anger sends three of the boys to the hospital, where, after some bickering, they reconcile with typical teenage melodrama and histrionics. The friends later embark on a road trip to a dilapidated lake house where Chris and Dave face their personal demons, sparking some predictable epiphanies. This is where Moore runs into trouble. While his prose is generally satisfying (particularly considering his age), Moore isn’t always aware he’s walking on a well-worn path–at the beginning of the novel, he treats banalities like great insight. The plot, too, borders on stereotypical–slacker kids resolve to make good. The occasional petty high school bickering, while realistic, is at times an unnecessary diversion. It’s when Moore settles into his characters and their issues that he captures readers, creating such vivid portraits of teenage confusion, anger and chaos that they eclipse any of the novel’s other issues.
Despite the platitudes, a potentially interesting young author.