Barry Lyga once again has written a novel that pins one to the chair with anticipation, dread and release. He has captured an issue that is a true horror in our present day, prevalent throughout our country. When reading the daily news there are always far too many stories about accidental shootings involving children. All the statistics won’t make those hard-pressed to keep their firearms close to them change their mind, but sometimes a fictionalized account will change even the most cynical of citizens.
Often these horrific stories involve young children accidentally shooting a gun that an adult left loaded and laying about. Sometimes there’s a novel written about the adult who left the gun out. But if you’ve ever wondered what might happen to a four-year-old who accidentally kills his baby sister, then this is that young boy's story.
For ten years Sebastian has shouldered the burden of guilt as the result of one horrific moment. While his best and only friend is at a camp for the summer, he meets a new neighbor, Aneesa, who brings light into his life and has her own troubles with Islamophobia. Although his dark thoughts are held at bay with adventures with his new friend, they are never very far away. In the dark of the night, when the quiet is the loudest, Sebastian listens to a voice asking him if it’s time yet.
As Sebastian silently plans how to move past the daily weight that presses down, with no relief in sight, his pain and sadness begin leaking out. He wonders if he can stay or if he needs to fulfill his mission. As the reader delves deeper and deeper into Sebastian’s story, we don’t know exactly what the ending will hold. The surrounding cast of characters, mainly the adults, are written thoughtfully and realistically.
Lyga’s writing, at times poetic and lyrical, truly brings a novel much-needed for our times. For adults and teens who love realistic fiction, heavy and topical subjects, this novel should definitely be on your list to read. I always look forward to Lyga’s offerings, and this novel has surpassed my expectations.