Sunday, 10 May 2015

Finding Jake

Author: Bryan Reardon
Genre: Suspense
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 272
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: William Morrow
First Published: February 24, 2015
First Line: "My name is Simon Connolly."

Book Description from GoodReadsA heart-wrenching yet ultimately uplifting story of psychological suspense in which a parent is forced to confront what he does—and does not—know about his teenage son, in the vein of Reconstructing Amelia, Defending Jacob, and We Need to Talk about Kevin.

While his successful wife goes off to her law office each day, Simon Connolly takes care of their kids, Jake and Laney. Now that they are in high school, the angst-ridden father should feel more relaxed, but he doesn't. He’s seen the statistics, read the headlines. And now, his darkest fear is coming true. There has been a shooting at school. 

Simon races to the rendezvous point, where he’s forced to wait. Do they know who did it? How many victims were there? Why did this happen? One by one, parents are led out of the room to reunite with their children. Their numbers dwindle, until Simon is alone.

As his worst nightmare unfolds, and Jake is the only child missing, Simon begins to obsess over the past, searching for answers, for hope, for the memory of the boy he raised, for mistakes he must have made, for the reason everything came to this. Where is Jake? What happened in those final moments? Is it possible he doesn't really know his son? Or he knows him better than he thought?

Brilliantly paced, Finding Jake explores these questions in a tense and emotionally wrenching narrative. Harrowing and heartbreaking, surprisingly healing and redemptive, Finding Jake is a story of faith and conviction, strength, courage, and love that will leave readers questioning their own lives, and those they think they know.

My Review:  The premise of this book is what hooked me - suspense, a family and community in turmoil, emotional reactions ...  Sounds like a great read but it fell flat for me in a few areas.

The book focuses around Jake's dad, Simon as he tries to piece together what has happened to his son and how his son's life may have gotten so off course.  Simon's wife and daughter were unfortunately relegated to the outer edges of the story with no character development to speak of.  It was the Simon show.  I found this odd since getting different views of Jake would have helped me get more involved in the story. 

Unfortunately Simon, as the main character, got on my nerves pretty fast.  As a parent we often question our choices while raising our kids.  I get that, believe me, I do.  But Simon is neurotic and so insecure as a parent that he blames every issue that his kids have (especially Jake) on something he did as a parent.  Should he have forced his son to play with neighbourhood kids? Did he give his kids sippy cups too early so now they won't get into an Ivy League school? Okay, that didn't happen but that's the overall feel I got from him. 

While Simon did have valid (to a point) concerns about parenting I think that his concerns were made so big that they were unbelievable, felt unwarranted and became the focus of the book instead of the suspense of finding Jake.  This constant insecurity hindered me from getting behind Simon as a main character plus the author also made Simon's choice of being a stay-at-home dad such a big deal as if it is unheard of in this day and age and I wasn't quite sure why.

The premise of the book was about finding Jake and figuring out what happened to him was good - just not not overly unique.  There was one moment that gave me a lump in my throat and the author did a good job of jumping back and forth from present to past to tell the story.  Unfortunately I often felt the forays into the past were sluggish at best and I wanted to learn more about what was happening to Jake in the present.  Overall, the writing was decent but the pace was too slow and the suspense, for the most part, just wasn't there for me.

Rating: 2/5 stars

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