Published by Seventh Street Books on October 14th 2014
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“I have to say the words out loud. I have to tell someone the truth about what happened all those years ago. I have to tell someone the truth about what I did.”
College student Joe Talbert has a lot on his plate: an alcoholic Mother, a brother with Autism, a job and college courses. He is attempting to handle it all when he is given a writing assignment for an English Class. His assignment is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of that individual. He decides to go to a local nursing home where the staff suggest he interview Carl Iverson. Carl is a decorated Viet Nam Veteran and also a convicted murderer. He is in the Nursing home because he is dying of Cancer (no spoiler we are told this right away). Carl agrees to tell his “dying declaration” to Joe in return for absolute honesty between them.
What begins as a simple writing assignment turns into something much, much bigger. Carl has been convicted of raping and murdering a 14 year old girl 30 years earlier. Joe finds that he must know all the facts in order to write his school assignment. That means looking at court records, crime scene photos, learning about Carl’s time in Viet Nam and speaking to those involved in the criminal case. While attempting to write Carl’s biography, Joe also has to take care of his brother, study at school, pursue a relationship and work. He finds that his time with Carl is life changing.
As the truth begins to come out the suspense begins to build in this book. This book becomes somewhat of a thriller – a literary thriller. The character development in this book was extremely good. I found the story to be absorbing, and told at the right pace. It is not your classic page turner but I found I could not put it down. This debut novel won awards and it is easy to see why. It is fantastic.
I will definitely be reading more books by this author! Highly recommend.