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Black Chalk

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  53 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
In the Oxfordshire countryside, a student walks into a classroom and starts shooting. Nate Dillingham, friends with shooter and victims alike, is the sole survivor and only witness. Easily led and eager to please, his recollections weave around others’ hopes until he loses track of what really happened that day. After eight evasive years on the road, he comes back to Oxfor ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 1st 2013 by Garnet Publishing (first published May 6th 2013)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,168)
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Hayley North
Jul 16, 2013 Hayley North rated it it was amazing
I have just finished reading this book on Kindle--I'm secretly delighted that it isn't out in hard copy yet which means I'm one of the first to have read it. And trust me, many will. This book has it all: the intense and cold descriptions of Cormac Mccarthy's The Road, the introspectiveness of Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty-Four and the page-turner effect of any of Dan Brown's finest thrillers.

The opening lines thrust the reader directly into the mind of Nate Dillingham, as he sits in a room surrounde
Annette M Guerriero Nishimoto
Today's review is on Black Chalk by Albert Alla

Black Chalk was a very difficult book to read. It wasn't because of poor editing or poor character development. It wasn't even because of a bad storyline. In fact, it's because the storyline was so strong and so amazing that made it difficult.

Instead of reading like a fictional book, Black Chalk reads more like a Memoir. The way Alla expresses the emotional trauma that his protagonist experiences is spot on. Like he was the one that went through it.
Liz Barnsley
Oct 12, 2013 Liz Barnsley rated it it was amazing
Thank you kindly to the author and Garnet for the copy of this book for review.

In the Oxfordshire countryside, a student walks into a classroom and starts shooting. Nate Dillingham, friends with shooter and victims alike, is the sole survivor and only witness. Easily led and eager to please, his recollections weave around others’ hopes until he loses track of what really happened that day.

Right. So imagine. One seemingly normal day at school, a friend of yours enters the classroom and starts sho
Michelle Corasanti
Sep 17, 2013 Michelle Corasanti rated it it was amazing

Alla's first book is a truly superb offering; if he gets the recogniton that he deserves, I'm sure he'll be a household name in no time at all.
Our protagonist, Nate, is the sole survivor of a classroom gun massacre. He's no longer the boy he was, and Alla skillfully takes us through the labyrinthine corridors of his mind.
Thrilling, Dark, Deep and Delightful, and so much more!
Jayne Charles
Aug 08, 2013 Jayne Charles rated it liked it
This is intelligent writing – fiercely so. The prose is bold and intense, and clearly the work of a sizeable brain. It had the feeling of something written perhaps only 50% on the physical plane, the rest more spiritual and harder to pin down.

There are three distinct phases to the story. The first is a school shooting and its immediate aftermath as the narrator ends up as its only survivor. The second part involves him travelling, putting distance between himself and the traumatic events. The fi
Dec 22, 2013 Iris rated it really liked it
This review was originally posted on my blog,

"Each memory came innocent and left tainted. And once tainted, memories grew persistent. Their stench remained and coloured other thoughts, so that, like an infection, I was soon left with nothing but tainted memories"

I had to let this book sink in a little bit before writing my review. It was, as you can probably imagine, a heavy book to read. This book tackles such a difficult subject and it took me longer t
Wendy Janes
Nov 24, 2013 Wendy Janes rated it it was amazing
Nate Dillingham is the only survivor of a mass shooting at a school where he’d been friends with both the perpetrator and his victims. After Nate’s physical recovery is complete, he leaves his parents and brother in their Oxfordshire home, and spends eight years on the road, escaping from his memories. On his return, he meets Leona, a beautiful girl who unwittingly breaks down his defences.

In this psychological exploration of a young man trying to come to terms with a traumatic experience, Nate
Oct 03, 2013 Marleen rated it it was amazing

I received my copy from the publisher through Nudge.

“Each memory came innocent and left tainted. And once tainted, memories grew persistent. Their stench remained and coloured other thoughts, so that, like an infection, I was soon left with nothing but tainted memories.”

Nate Dillingham is 17 years old when his life disintegrates. Nate is a nice young man. He is doing well in school and getting ready for college. He is also the sort of guy who gets on with everybody he meets. So when Eric Knight
Paddy O'callaghan
Jul 22, 2013 Paddy O'callaghan rated it it was amazing

Having read the first couple of paragraphs, I was sucked in to the protagonists world, and I remained there for the rest of the next 2 days. I did little else but read it during that time; even in the brief interims, i was still with Nate Dillingham.

The first person POV style made it like having a story told to me by an incredibly intelligentm and eloquent raconteur.

Of the books that I read in the past decade or so, this is second only to the great Michelle Cohen Corasanti's The Almond Tree, and
Anita Lock
Nov 10, 2014 Anita Lock rated it it was amazing
On February 10, 2000 Nathan Dillingham witnessed the murder of his high school classmates. The media reported that Nate, the wounded sole survivor of this horrific school shooting in Oxford, England, was a hero for killing the assailant. Yet eight years later, Nathan is ready to share the details of what happened on that fateful day, and it is not as anyone expects.

In his debut novel, Alla gives readers a first-person account about a person's struggle with an incident that not only affects our y
Lorraine Baker
Oct 31, 2013 Lorraine Baker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-thrillers
I received this book free through goodreads first reads.
This is a psychological thriller covering the subject of a school shooting and the aftermath.
A very difficult subjuct to cover but the story had me hooked from the beginning. An excellent read.
Apr 19, 2014 Heather rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book for free from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. Like most books I read I avoided reading any other reviews before reading it myself.

I started and stopped Black Chalk several times. I had such trouble in the beginning I wasn't sure if it was the story I was having trouble with or something else. I have concluded that it had nothing to do with the story but with the way I reacted to the personalities jumping off the page. Alla has done such a fantastic job developing his char
Apr 25, 2016 Kara rated it really liked it
Black Chalk is an exciting, engrossing and most of all, intense work of psychological fiction that I personally am inclined to recommend highly.

Special Attributes of This Work Other Readers May Find Appealing Too

Firstly, secondly, and lastly, it's worth noting that author Albert Alla pulls no punches -- and certainly spares no delicate sensibilities -- as he quarries the depths of his protagonist's tormented psyche. And make no mistake, the character at the center of this novel is one tormented
Sep 27, 2013 Nichole rated it liked it
Review: Black Chalk by Albert Alla For the first half of the novel, Nate avoids his emotions on the tragic school shooting where he was the only survivor. With no other witnesses to corroborate his story, Nate is considered a hero by the media and the town. But unable to face his own demons, Nate disappears for eight long years. Much to his surprise, a lot has changed when he finally returns home.In the second half, Nate begins to slowly allow himself to remember the incident. He has trouble sle ...more
barbara ann petoskey
A Thriller To Deliver

Truly a psychological thriller that will have you juggling your calendar where you can, to clear time for reading Black Chalk. Told from the sole survivors point of view, you learn and form your own ideas,through his mommy dearest, other family, and a dear girlfriend. I can say no more. The end will leave you breathless. In a good way?
Denise DeSio
Mar 12, 2014 Denise DeSio rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommend
Nate's claim to fame is being the only one left alive after a mass shooting at school. He doesn't want the notoriety because he is full of guilt and tortured by his connection with the killer. It affects everything he is and does for years until he finally finds love with sister of his best friend, Jeffery, also a deceased victim of the shooting. Most of the book explores the psychological effects of the tragedy on Nate. As he becomes more and more obsessed with what really happened at the schoo ...more
Sep 01, 2015 Kweigle rated it really liked it
Just a really good story. I didn't even notice the writing, Which I'm not sure that is a good thing, but at least it didn't get the way.
I stopped reading this about 40 pages in. It was hard for me to keep up with at times. It sounded like a good book but going into this after reading 'The Fault In Our Stars' was not the best idea. I needed an easy read to not put me in a reading slump but this one is heavy (With the topic being a school shooting) and I just couldn't get into it. I am going to try reading it again soon. but for now I'm just going to leave it and read something else to get me out of the slump I'm in.
Jan 05, 2014 Denise rated it really liked it
I was pleased to receive a signed copy of this book from a goodreads giveway. Black Chalk is an interesting & thought provoking read about a school class room shooting and the aftermath for the sole survivor Nate. Even though some of the chapters were long, I felt encouraged to read on. The structure really suited the story line, returning to the past and back to the present. A well written book and I'm looking forward to reading more from Albert Alla.
Sue G
Dec 07, 2013 Sue G rated it liked it
I seem to be in the minority here, but I really didn't enjoy this. The story centred around Nate as the sole survivor of a school shooting. I found his emotional response unrealistic, often contradictory and the ending left me frustrated. Perhaps I'm too used to more straightforward writing and pace in crime fiction but I also found the prose quite dense and difficult to follow.
Jul 10, 2013 Crystal rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
This was a wonderful read. Sad and intriguing it kept me reading and wondering. Only thing I didn't like was how it ended it was rather confusing but other then that. I truly recommend this book for anyone that enjoys sad yet heartfelt stories.

See my full review here!
Shayla Parker
Feb 21, 2016 Shayla Parker marked it as did-not-finish
Marking this as finish-sometime-in-the-distant-future. It was interesting for a while and even though the writing isn't difficult to read, it just sort of feels like a really long and heavy book, like I shouldn't have so much left to read (I think I'm over halfway through).
Maddy Gravette
Jan 08, 2014 Maddy Gravette rated it did not like it
could not finish it which is really hard for me to do. chapters were unnecessarily long, it rambled and in some cases did not make sense. I liked the plot just not the writing.
Julianne Niespodziany
Jun 28, 2013 Julianne Niespodziany rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Wow! A great read! Though this is non-fiction it makes me wonder what the people (victims and there families) of the real world school tragedies go through emotionally.
Feb 27, 2014 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Definitely not a young adult read.
Sgt Roman Hunter
Oct 22, 2013 Sgt Roman Hunter rated it did not like it
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Born in the South of France, Albert Alla moved back and forth between St-Tropez and Nice until, at the age of thirteen, his family emigrated to Australia. Swapping Dumas for Dickens, he moved around Australia studying engineering and playing cricket, before going off to Oxford to study economics. He now splits his time between the island of New Caledonia and Sydney, Australia.
More about Albert Alla...

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