Jessica Suhr's Reviews > Right Behind You

Right Behind You by Gail Giles
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's review
May 21, 2012

it was amazing

How do you define "crazy" or "criminal"? This book highlights the courage and strength it takes one boy to overcome his past and grow back into a normal societal setting. Kip McFarland lost his mother when he was just 9 years old, and blamed her for leaving him and not trying to get hospital care for her cancer. Kip's Dad became distant and living in Alaska, Kip wasn't really close to many kids his age. The story starts off with a boy lost looking for some kind of happiness. He is taunted by his neighbor Bobby Clarke who is only 7. He has a baseball glove that he got for his birthday and rubs it in Kip's face that he doesn't have a mother to buy him one and that his dad is too poor. A 9 year old boy with no hope to be happy in his life. He douses Bobby Clarke in gasoline that his Dad left out to start up a bonfire and Bobby Clarke is murdered. So, my question is, and the overall theme of this story is, How does one measure a "crazy" person? How can you really say this 9 year old boy deserves to die, and to never be trusted in a normal society?

This story brings the theme of "normalcy" and how to measure that in a society. Yes, murder is murder, and everyone has their own opinion on what fair punishment is, but a 9 year old boy? What should happen to him? He spends years and years of his childhood in a psych ward, with other characters named Slice n Dice and TwoFer. Slice n Dice was put away for slaughtering other neighbor's pets and leaving them in their yard, and TwoFer was "pimped" by his dad to other men and stabbed one of the clients. So does Kip really measure up to these boys? I really enjoyed this book because it took the reader along a journey of how a boy turns to a hated criminal and how he must cope with himself. He constantly blames himself for everything and believes that he should never feel happiness. I don't think I've ever looked through the murderer's eyes in a story, so this was a good depiction of what they endure. Kip felt shame and guilt for his actions which was 100% different than the boys he spent time with. This story definitely highlights how people function and how they judge so easily. Kip and his family were run out of town and he was sent away to be institutionalized.

I loved this book for so many reasons. Kip reminds me of characters I've read about in other books like Exit Here or Dead End. This was a great depiction of the struggle of the mind that we all face. Yes, he murdered another person, but he faced guilt, anger and shame for the rest of his life and eventually was able to move on and find some acceptance. He struggles with gluing his family back together while adapting to a new location and his surroundings in Texas. I definitely recommend this novel for anyone who enjoys listening in to the mind of a wounded and tortured person trying to find their way.
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