I think if I read this book two or three times I’d get deeper insight every time, having only read it once, this is my impression. A contemporary YA examination of empathy and the nature of mental illness. The first chapter confused me because the narrator wasn’t present. There were a couple of those chapters within the story I think they could have been let go to just roll with the first person POV which was so perfect for the raw emotion of this story.
The way Floreen writes the narrator is so perfect when I read it I felt those emotions. Alex is such a beautiful character and the relationship between him and Tor, then Franklin is relatable. You want Alex to have a happy ending. You want everything to be ok in the end, but that’s not how the world works. In this social and political climate that dose of realism, that pain heaped onto the back of this teenager, is needed to help us avoid complacency.
Introducing Franklin, he’s instantly identified as a sociopath and that label has such a stigma, anyone would assume a that person would be evil. In this case, obviously, Floreen wrote it to be that way; however, I think in service to the mental health community, there should have been more of a divide, a finite diagnosis of Franklin’s sociopathic tendencies. Feeding into assumptions and stigma doesn’t help anyone.
In the end, it comes down to the three boys: Alex, Franklin, and Tor. And all they want is to survive each other and love freely. The big question that Alex likes to ponder is: can evil be cured? As I read I thought about this question quite often, but I can’t say I came up with any decent conclusions, so I’ll leave that for you guys to mull over.
Great contemporary by Tim Floreen!