TheRLPL Rice Lake Public Library's Reviews > Spilled Blood

Spilled Blood by Brian Freeman
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Oct 04, 14

bookshelves: staff-picks, page-turners-book-club-selection
Read from May 13 to 20, 2012

We were fortunate to have Brian Freeman himself lead our discussion of Spilled Blood. He began by giving us a bit of history behind the book, where he found inspiration (a Lady Gaga song!), and what he was trying to accomplish. Spilled Blood is very different from Freeman’s other books in that it is a stand alone novel rather than part of a series. We learned how writing a stand-alone presents some challenges; for instance, the author knows he will have to leave his characters behind at the end of the book rather than entering their lives again at a later time. At the same time, Mr. Freeman said that he felt he had more freedom in developing the characters in this book than in the others that he’s written.

Our discussion often centered around the topic of creating characters. We agreed that it’s important to realize that every person is a mixture of good and bad to some degree. Freeman said he works hard when developing his characters to reflect that reality. There’s only one character in the book who might be considered a true villain, and even so there was one moment in his history in which he acted in part out of love for another person.

Redemption was an important theme in this book. Freeman talked about how he intended the story to be a journey of redemption for the main character. Other characters made good out of terrible circumstances. This is also a book that explores the relationships between fathers and teen-aged daughters–Freeman created three such pairs to show what parents will do out of love for their children. Some of our readers didn’t like the teen-aged characters at the beginning of the book but felt that they were more likable as you got to know them.

Other issues that came up in our discussion of Spilled Blood: lawyers and legal standards, and the effects of agribusiness on surrounding communities and the world. Freeman covered some controversial topics in this book, but he steered clear of leading his readers to one opinion or another. Rather, he laid out the information and let us come to our own conclusions.

Local readers of Spilled Blood might do a double take over the names of the two towns in the setting–Barron and St. Croix. It’s not a coincidence that we have their namesakes so close to us here in northern Wisconsin. Although the fictional towns are located in southwestern Minnesota, Freeman deliberately chose their names as a tip of the hat to his Wisconsin readers.

It was a wonderful evening, and we appreciate Brian Freeman for offering to join us for the discussion. Because of the different format, we didn’t rate the book as we usually do. However, anyone interested in Brian Freeman’s books should come to the library on October 23 at 6:30, when he’ll be taking us on a photographic tour of the places in Duluth where his Jonathan Stride series is set.
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