The sole survivor of an incident in which his mother drove herself and four children into a river, high school sophomore Gordie copes with the aftereffects of trauma.
It’s been five years since That Day. Gordie is a successful hockey goalie but still has nightmares, hand spasms and self-soothing rituals he calls “spins.” He is certain that everyone at school knows what happened to his family and believes Gordie is a damaged freak. When Gordie’s violent father, who left after the incident, reaches out to Gordie through Child and Family Services, Gordie is sent reeling. The portrayals of Gordie’s fears and coping strategies are adequate, but every element of the story echoes the legions of teen novels about young people dealing with similar tragedies. A tear falls wetly onto a hand. A traumatic event is referred to with Ominous Capitals. A cute, compassionate girl with a quirky hobby takes an interest. The protagonist blames himself for what happened only to discover later that no one else believes he is at fault. Although the relationship between Gordie and his protective older brother, Kevin, is compellingly multilayered, Sarah, Gordie’s love interest, feels more like a plot device than a person.
Though competently enough written, it fails to distinguish itself. (Fiction. 12-16)