I listened to this one as an audiobook, I'm not sure if that's what made me absolutely love the book or if it was the writing. Probably a mixture of bI listened to this one as an audiobook, I'm not sure if that's what made me absolutely love the book or if it was the writing. Probably a mixture of both. But, I'm going to review the audio version, because...well, it's what I "read". ;)
At first I didn't know what was going on - since I didn't have the book in front of me, I didn't realize that it was written entirely in letters. So the first letter had me completely confused. Then I got into it. I think if I was reading it, I would have gotten bored because nothing ever really happens, it's just this boy going on about his life and all these little random things. But when it's being read to you, by a narrator that does it *just so*, Charlie is endearing and lovable, and I just wanted to hug him.
The book is set in the 1991/92 school year and follows Charlie's first year of high school. He's a very sensitive boy (he cried, a lot), and pretty clueless (as any 15-year-old can be). The things he goes through and the decisions he makes are laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreaking at the same time. There are several "adult" themes in this book - sex, drugs, sexual orientation, rape/molestation, among others.
The ending reveals a shock that I didn't see coming - even though I'd read quasi-spoilers that had mentioned it, I'd forgotten them because I was so engrossed in the narration of the book.
To me, this book is a heartwarming story of a young boy coming into his own, a must-read for everyone! (But I really recommend the audiobook version...)...more
The opening scene of this book is completely heartbreaking - we see what young Gabriel sees at the tender age of 5. The next few chapters we see GabriThe opening scene of this book is completely heartbreaking - we see what young Gabriel sees at the tender age of 5. The next few chapters we see Gabriel as a broken child, trying to grow up but burdened by the tragedy he suffered. I just wanted to reach through the pages and hug this young boy, since his innocence was wrenched away from him at such an early age.
The book then fast forwards to Gabriel as a 20-year-old, stuck in a rut because of his past. But an adventurous streak comes across him and he goes back to The River and is completely changed by his experiences out there.
The first part of the book was slow, but important...it helped me understand where Gabriel was coming from and why he was acting the way he did in the second part of the book. From the point Gabriel goes back to The River it gets very interesting and picks up the pace. I was expecting it to be more of a suspense type of book, but it wasn't - it was about a boy coming to his own after suffering throughout his childhood (not because he was denied anything, but because of fear). It's a very sweet book, it makes your heart happy when you walk away.
The author left the book in a very curious manner, and I'm wondering if we will see a sequel to this book that continues Gabriel's story. I hope that there is.
As a side not, I was also led to believe by tags here on GR that this was "Christian fiction". It's not. I don't remember God even being mentioned in the book (oh, except one place where they say Grace before eating). It's tagged that way maybe because the author is a Christian? I don't know. This book is not Christian fiction....more