Well after nearly a 6 hour drive home, my thoughts are still not where I want them to be with this book. So I will start by apologizing up front for what is sure to be rambling.
I found myself in a bit of a predicament where this book was concerned and felt constantly as if I were changing hats...from The Fan, to The Reader, to The Mom. So, I will try to tackle this book from these perspectives.
It has been nearly 4 months since I wrote my first review of one of John's books and my first statement still holds true.
"First let me say...John Goode...
...and he continues to amaze me with his words. As he knows, I would be happy to read his grocery list at this point. :) I hear a new book is coming, and I, like many, find myself...
There is a trust established at some point between reader and author and certainly by this point (with nearly 10 stories behind me) I have developed this trust. To understand that while certain scenes and points of views may be difficult to take, there will come a realization that there is a method to the madness, so to speak. I trust John to take me on the emotional journey and know that I will be forever changed by his words. I will get back to this point later. Onto...
So meet Danny Monroe
To say, I was a little surprised by this book would be an understatement. This is not your typical John Goode Foster High book. I know, I know...this is a spinoff series and not a Foster High book. That said, this book is just heavy. Intended or not, this one is, and tells Danny's story up to the point he enters college at A&M. His tale is not filled with sunshine and rainbows. It is heartbreaking but as with many of John's stories and characters...it feels real. Danny is real and so perfectly portrayed as a boy searching for himself, searching for love and wanting above all to feel accepted. His love for basketball is heartfelt and as a reader you feel his highs and lows, and as much as you're affected, you can't help but love him more and more with each and every page. A few highlights/comments/questions...
- Nate...my gawwd...this character ranks up there in the top 3 supporting characters in all of the Foster High Books...up there with my favorite father, Marvin Wallace (more on him later) and Gayle. Nate is just what Danny needs in his life and he will forever hold a special place in my heart.
- Father Mulligan once again gets his moment to shine, and shine he does. I was however taken back by Danny's reaction to this introduction to religion. While he is inspired to join the church after hearing Father Mulligan (and let's be honest...who wouldn't be) his perspective the months following and how he comes to view gays and quote scripture left me scratching my head. Was this more from where he chose to attend church after this introduction to Father Mulligan??
- Mistakes...poor Danny struggles considerably to the point I wanted to shake some sense into him. Where is Brad?? Yes, we as readers of 151 Days know that Danny will meet our wonderful Brad for an eyeopening discussion. Come on...this boy needs him some Brad right now!! As to who Danny wants to be with...I had to go back and see if it was Cody or Sam. Was this revealed in his discussion with Brad? Well...it was. <spoiler> It's Sam!</spoiler>. Although honestly, I was smitten with both boys, so would not have been disappointed either way.
As a parent...I just want my boy to be happy...which leads me to the third and final hat..
As a Mom, I felt more than a little like Loki...
John...I still love you though. But damn..
Why?? For me personally, there is nothing more upsetting than a child not feeling loved for who they are. For not feeling like they are the child their parents want them to be. The relationship between Danny and his father tore me up. John has a way of creating parents that I have loved and those I have hated. So going into this, I was unsure where John Monroe would land, but my heart wanted desperately for him to live up to my favorite parent...Marvin Wallace (Matt's Dad, Taking Chances)...yes, I have a bit of a crush on this man!
For me, John Monroe, needed his own POV in this story. Their relationship is one that I wish we could have experienced from both sides. <spoiler>Hearing at the end of the book that John Monroe never meant for his actions and words to be perceived by Danny in the way they were, while relieved, just hurt me. Poor Danny struggled so much over these words.</spoiler> We, as parents, are not perfect, there is no manual on raising your specific child. We, like our children, make mistakes. I have made so many mistakes, but I hope my kids know that I love them, I'm proud of them and I want above all else for them to find love and to be loved as they grown into adults. I want love for Danny and truly believe his Dad loves him unconditionally and only wants to see him happy. I know this love is coming for him
John, I trust you. I may have been taken on an emotional ride, but the journey is just beginning and I am sure to be left with nothing but love for this series. Take that as a challenge or just accept it for what it is. You leave us at the end of each book wanting more and with 4 ahead in 2015, it is sure to be a Goode year! Thank you!
If you have not yet been affected by John's words, you are in for a treat.