Cracked by K.M. Walton
Simon Pulse, January 3, 2012
Read for 2012 Debut Author Challenge and
2012 Standalone Challenge
Summary from Goodreads:
Sometimes there's no easy way out.I really enjoyed this debut novel. Victor is in the psych ward of the local hospital after trying to take his own life. He is forced to spend five days contemplating his life and what led him to attempt suicide and he has to interact with other kids his age. The horror--especially because part of what led Victor to attempt suicide is because of kids his own age--particularly Bull Matrick. Who, as luck would have it, winds up on the very same psych ward. And will be Victor's roommate for the next five days.
Victor hates his life. He has no friends, gets beaten up at school, and his parents are always criticizing him. Tired of feeling miserable, Victor takes a bottle of his mother's sleeping pills—only to wake up in the hospital.
Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. That makes him feel better, at least a little. But it doesn't stop Bull's grandfather from getting drunk and hitting him. So Bull tries to defend himself with a loaded gun.
When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, there's no way to escape each other or their problems. Which means things are going to get worse—much worse—before they get better….
Poor Victor. His parents are utter asshats, there's just no other way to say it (and I apologize for the language, but sometimes it's just the right word). They're more concerned with how the actions of their son's bully reflect on them in their social community than how their son is dealing with being bullied. Have you ever heard the argument that people should have to take a test or something, before they're allowed to be parents? Victor's parents give that argument credibility.
BUT. This isn't just the story of the victim of a bully. No! K.M. takes us into the minds of both boys, with alternating first-person chapters. This is what makes the novel so awesome, for me. Hearing Bull's side of the story does not in any way excuse his behavior, but you learn more about why he does the things he does, and, once we know this, we can empathize with him a little bit. If just one part of his life had been different, he wouldn't have grown up to be the wretched teenager he is today. I'm not sure that I can explain the feelings I had after reading this book--I certainly didn't sympathize with Bull as a bully, but as a confused teen from a shoddy home life? Yeah, that sucks, big-time.
This is a powerful debut novel, a contemporary read that raises some difficult questions--and doesn't give you any easy answers. It might inspire you to reach out to someone you might normally overlook, and by doing so, change their life.
Own book (and had the pleasure of meeting K.M. Walton at the Mega Book Signing at Books of Wonder last month!).
Enjoy your reading!