Published by Crown Publishing Group (NY) on January 9th 2018
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“And it felt good, to confess.”
Confession is good for the soul they say…but then again there are characters in this book who would disagree. Who feel the complete opposite. Who believe that well, “sometimes……it’s better not to know all the answers.” But we do learn the answers in this psychological/suspense thriller. I’ll be entirely honest, when I first began reading this book I thought “what is all the fuss about?” I thought the first chapter or so was dull. All I can say is, if you feel the same way I did when you first pick up this book, KEEP READING. Things got interesting fast.
This book flips back and forth between 1986 and 2016. Going back and forth in time used to really annoy me as did differing POV chapters. Either Authors have master how to do this or I have surrendered myself to this story telling device. Either way, I found this really worked in this book in the unraveling of the story.
So What is the story?
In 1986, Eddie and his friends (Fat Gav, Hoppo, “Metal” Mickey, and Nicky) draw chalk men, they use them as their secret code that only they understand. They each have their own color and leave messages for each other about meeting up, etc. Then one day thy discover a chalk figure that points the way to a grisly discovery in the woods: A local teenager, Elisa, has been dismembered. Elisa is the young woman that Eddie helped save at the carnival after a moving piece fell off a ride and landed on Elisa. Eddie and the new teacher in town, Mr. Halloran helped save her life and became local heroes in the process. Who would have wanted to kill Elisa and why?
Flash forward to 2016, Eddie still lives in his childhood home and is a teacher at the local school. He has taken on a lodger and is happily unhappy living his life and drinking a little too much. Then he receives a letter in the mail. A letter which changes everything….The letter contains a chalk stick figure. He then learns that all of his friends have received the same letter. Has the past come back to haunt them?
“An ADULT is only an illusion. When it comes down to it I’m not sure any of us really grow up. We simply grtow taller and hairier. Sometimes, I still feel amazed that I am allowed to drive a car….”
One of his friends comes back to town and then turns up dead. The letter was no prank. Who could have been behind it? Why? They only found the body, they had nothing to do with the teen girls murder. Eddie decides that it is time to look into the past. Try and put the pieces together. Time to determine who is responsible.
This book may have started slow for me but it built…and when I say it built I mean EVERYTHING built. The suspense built, the plot and subplots build, the suspense built, the revealing built. The story came together so flawlessly that it was actually quite brilliant. There was more than one “AHA” moment in this book. Truths both large and small are revealed. It was brilliant and I have to say that I am really surprised that this is a debut novel. I have not been this impressed sine I read “The Summer that Melted Everything”. This book also has a bit of a nostalgic feel to it. By going back and forth from childhood to adult hood this book had a “IT” and “Stand by Me” feel to it. The teens deal with bullying, parental issues, anger, death, family secrets, etc. The kids are basically dealing with adult subjects in the way that only kids can. C.J. Tudor really pulled off the Nostalgia aspect of this book quite seamlessly. How one event experienced in childhood, can not only change a person but change friendships forever. Tragedy can either pull people closer together or tear them apart.
As I mentioned there are other sub-plots going on in this book as well. This makes for a very interesting read. Plus, they all blend together and make for a captivating read. I loved when the “aha” moments and revelations were revealed. They all seemed to come at just the right time to keep the pages turning and the story moving. If this is C.J. Tudor’s first book, I can’t wait to read the next!
I received an ARC of this book from Crown Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for making the book available for me to read and review.