Thursday, May 28, 2015

Little Beasts

Little Beasts by Matthew McGevna, © 2015, Akashic Books

I am grateful to the folks at Akashic Books for allowing me the chance to get a sneak peek at some of their newest titles. They recently sent me another book from their Kaylie Jones Books series for me to review. And while the topic held dark and sometimes violent images, I flew through the pages.

The twitch of violence is in every whiff of breeze in the hot July air of Turnbull. For three 8-year-old boys looking for distractions from summer boredom, the forest behind their working-class homes is the perfect retreat. Close enough to hear their mother's call, but far enough away to find mischief. And when they stumble upon a treehouse-in-the-making, that distraction becomes an obsession for Dallas, which ultimately changes the course of their summer and the rest of their lives.

The boys aren't the only kids in the poor neighbourhood who are listless though. When they come across three 15-year-old boys fraught with teen-angst—think girls, bullying, ambition—the mix becomes deadly. After an incident goes too far, the consequences are extreme and everyone involved has to reassess their lives and their places in the world.

McGevna loosely based his book on actual events that happened in Long Island in 1979. The pent-up emotions that run throughout the characters are scary in the innocence that they have of the consequences. Actions beget reactions and sometimes there is no coming back from them. But is there a way to forestall them in the first place? In the poor town of Turnbull, it seems like the events were inevitable.

While the story touched on unpleasant events and emotions, it left me wondering how people fall through the cracks and whether with a little pause and foresight, some of these events could be prevented. Because even though it is a work of fiction, I am only too aware that hot tempers do exist in real life and often amount to regretted violence that can't be taken back.

Perhaps we could all use a moment to stop and breathe sometimes, before we say or do something we regret. You might find yourself thinking back to this book, long after it's done. And that is a mark of a good book to me.

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