Anne Chaconas's Reviews > Forgive Me, Alex

Forgive Me, Alex by Lane Diamond
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Jul 02, 12

Recommended to Anne by: Emlyn Chand
Read from June 29 to July 01, 2012 — I own a copy, read count: 1

“I mean, shit, any knucklehead can be a writer, right?” muses one of the characters in Lane Diamond’s nail-biter of a story, Forgive Me, Alex. And, yes, any knucklehead can. But it takes a very special kind of knucklehead to put together a story the way Diamond has. Forgive Me, Alex did something that a book has not done since Kristy and the Snobs (The Baby-sitters Club #11), where Kristy’s family dog Louie had to be put to sleep: It made me cry. Damn you, Lane Diamond. Damn you to hell.

Forgive Me, Alex is classified as a psychological suspense thriller, and suspense should really be bolded and italicized. There is a certain level of mastery a writer must possess in order to effectively build this kind of breathless expectation in a reader, and Diamond does just that, not only by switching us back and forth between 1978 (when the events that set everything in motion took place) and 1995 (the subsequent aftermath after the serial killer is released), but also by switching up narrative perspectives between our hero and antagonist. Although I was originally afraid all this moving about might harm the linearity of the tale, my fears were unfounded: The story developed and evolved brilliantly, and kept me turning the pages wanting more. More. More.

Diamond does in Forgive Me, Alex what I wish more contemporary authors would do: He brings me right into the story, forcing me to identify with the characters. I didn’t have a choice–I would feel Tony Hooper’s wrath and need for revenge, I would wallow in Mitchell Norton’s desperate inability to ward off his demons. I would cheer for Diana Gregorio’s unbelievable ballsiness in the face of seemingly unbeatable odds. I would weep, shedding actual tears, for Alex Hooper’s childhood.

Forgive Me, Alex scared the living bejeesus out of me. I live in a small, sleepy town á la Algonquin, Illinois. It’s a big deal if someone gets a new riding lawnmower. Could a Mitchell Norton be just around the corner (sorry, neighbors)? I have a daughter. She’s trusting, wonderful, sweet–a little Alex Hooper. I projected onto this story in a way that astonished even me (mostly because I’m a jaded author type who reads with one eyebrow raised at all times). But even those living in sprawling metropolises without any children will identify with this story, because the way Tony Hooper reacts to the events of his life (and–poor Tony–he gets more than his fair share of awfulness) is incredibly relatable. Who, when faced with the destruction of life as he knows it, wouldn’t long to mete out the justice he had so cruelly been denied? We all would. We might not have the cojones to go through with it, but we can certainly cheer Tony’s decision to become the world’s vigilante.

Probably the best part of Forgive Me, Alex is that you think you know how it will all go–you think you know how everything will end. But you don’t. All the signs point to one thing, and it’s most decidedly another. It’s half Red Dragon and half Flowers for Algernon–and any mix like that is bound to throw you a curveball or twelve. Even the last two chapters (which I could have done without, simply because I felt they took away from what was otherwise a very, very strong ending) kept right on making you do a double-take at the page.

A word of warning: When the author placed the disclaimer that this tale is not for children at the front of the book, he’s not kidding. There are certain parts that are incredibly disturbing, and certain acts are described that are meant only for mature audiences. Know that when Diamond says he will take you on a trek into the mind of a serial killer, he means it–warts and all. Forgive Me, Alex presents the truth of its story in excruciating detail, and it may present images that take a while to fade from your mind’s eye.

As for my "absolute must" requirements in any book: I had no problem following the story. Although it jumped back and forth in time, the linearity within each time period was flawless, and the action was so well-developed that I had no problem keeping everything in mind and building upon it as I read. The editing was great, and the formatting was nearly perfect. Forgive Me, Alex was a fantastic read, both in scope and execution.

Kudos, Lane Diamond. My teary, frightened self salutes you. Job well done.
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Reading Progress

06/29/2012 page 30
12.0%
07/01/2012 page 260
100.0% "All done! Review on the morrow at annechaconas.com and indieauthorbookreviews.wordpress.com."

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message 1: by Lane (new) - added it

Lane Diamond Thank you for taking the time to post a thoughtful, comprehensive review. I so appreciate it.


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