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by N.B. Edge

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1434909336
Publisher: Dorrance

In his debut novel, Edge tackles abuse, homosexuality and heartbreak in hopes of championing the cause of abused kids.

The story, written in alternating first-person narratives, has an array of characters who are products of abuse and dysfunction. The book opens with Thomasina, a teen mother trying to escape the downward spiral begun by her drug-addicted mother. Thomasina’s voice is engaging, but her narrative weighs down the front of the book with back story as most of the action takes place years later and focuses Indigo, an abused, sexually confused boy who goes to high school with Thomasina’s son, Ahmir. The first half of the book follows Indigo as he attempts to make friends and his friend, Lexy, and several adults try to figure out what he’s hiding and who is beating him. Each character has positive and negative traits that help him or her feel balanced and real. The plot is compelling, but the alternating perspectives make it difficult to feel an attachment to the characters and, at times, make the teens seem unrealistically self-reflective. Additionally, wordy sentences and an abundance of description slow the story. While the first half reads like an edgy young-adult novel, the second half takes a darker turn, focusing primarily on one abusive relationship and showcasing the generational cycle of abuse. During this part of the book, several teens (all at least 18-years-old) are coerced into illicit relationships with adults. Much of the story is centered on teens, but the violence, sex and profanity that are prominent throughout make it unsuitable for most teen readers. The book is packed with tragic, raw events that have the potential to tap into readers’ own feelings of pain and alienation. But while the book is noble in its attempt to give voice to abuse victims, readers may wonder whether it has achieved the promise of its epilogue—“The Many Shades of Indigo represents all that is wonderful in the world and all that’s beautiful in human beings.”

An intriguing, if at times too-vivid, depiction of abuse.