I think this book deserves 5-stars (or very close to it). I’m not sure how Jeff Zentner does it, but he dazzles every damn time.
When I read the synopsis of this book, I wasn’t overtly excited about it. I knew I would read it eventually because I loved the Serpent King and I’m from Tennessee, but I didn’t immediately pick it up. It just seemed like a blasé topic to me. Unnecessary emotions throttled out of us with pretty words. I am perfectly fine admitting that I was 100% wrong.
This book made me weep, laugh, love, and forgive. Carver is the perfect male teen for a book like this. He felt real and easy to relate to, which is something teen boys struggle with. He also wasn’t an athlete, and his whole purpose in the book wasn’t to be a social pariah. He was a average guy that liked normal things that loved art and writing and had a good group of friends, but he wasn’t looked at as the weirdo in his school. Jeff Zentner has written a book that I can book talk to the average teenage boy. I love him for that.
This book is heavy, and it hit very close to home. I laugh-sobbed through the end of this book. Some might call it emotional warfare, but I think it was a lot more beautiful than that. The positive adult relationship portrayed with Dr. Mendez, a psychiatrist, is something that you rarely see in books. They are typically pushy, inappropriate, or inadequate. My partner will be glad to see a mental health professional portrayed in such a positive manner.
The last thing I want to mention is how well written this book is. Jeff Zentner was a born writer. I felt everything this book had to offer. With it’s detailed setting (even though I could easily picture it because it was like going home), it’s vibrant characters each with their own distinct voice, and it’s plot that makes you stop and think.
I am sad that I did not start this book sooner, but I am also sad that this book it over. I was to enjoy it for the first time over and over again.