Author: N. D. GomesSeries: Standalone
Released: October 20th 2016
Publisher: Mira INK
Length: 222 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Death should never meet the young. But it did. Thanks to my brother, death made fourteen new friends that day. Maybe even fifteen, if you count Charlie.At sixteen, Sam Macmillan is supposed to be thinking about girls, homework and his upcoming application to music college, not picking up the pieces after the school shooting that his brother Charlie committed.Yet as Sam desperately tries to hang on to the memories he has of his brother, the media storm surrounding their family threatens to destroy everything. And Sam has to question all he thought he knew about life, death, right and wrong.
School shootings have been the plague of our world for far too long, but unlike diseases and natural disasters, they always leave us with someone to blame. We’ve all grieved with the families of those who were lost, but few of us stop to think about the parents and siblings of shooters. Dear Charlie offers a new perspective, a painful look into the devastation and shame of one such family, faced with the condemnation and the hate while also struggling with grief.
Sam’s brother Charlie killed himself suddenly and he took fourteen other people along with him. In the aftermath, Sam is struggling to make sense of things, to reconcile the brother he knew with the person who took a gun to school and used it. No matter how hard he tries, Sam can’t remember any warning signs, anything that could have helped him foresee this tragedy in time.
Sam is just trying to find his place in his horrible new life. He can’t go back to the same school he was attending with his brother and he can’t reconnect with his old friends. He feels alone and isolated, abandoned by his community and his grieving parents. There are obviously no magical cures for such senseless tragedy, and Gomes captures this perfectly, but people can heal even in the most horrible circumstances and find peace and strength they didn’t know they possessed.
N. D. Gomes writes beautifully, and skillfully avoids being melodramatic. Dear Charlie isn’t at all about Charlie, and that becomes more and more clear as the story progresses. It is about Sam finding his footing and allowing his life to take a new shape, a more mature, wounded but recovering outline. Gomes delves deep into Sam’s emotions and displays all the anger, guilt, sadness and loneliness for us to see. It is heartbreaking, but also empowering, and it forces us to look at things in a whole new way.
Overall, this is a painful book, but worth reading and absorbing. It helps build compassion for those who are sometimes beyond our notice, especially compared to larger, more obvious tragedies. Even with his quiet, withdrawn demeanor, Sam speaks loudly of the things we might not want to hear, and his voice stays with us and leaves a permanent impact.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.