Arcadia by Mark Lages
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is my second Mark Lages book and I'll be honest, neither of them would have caught my interest in the random playing field of searching for books in general. BUT... having read them by the author's request, or indeed, after getting past the first chapter or two with either book, I can now firmly say that I'm a fan of his writing.
I didn't expect it. I truly didn't. And especially when I learn I'm dealing with a novel about teen suicide, I really out to have squirmed and tried to wiggle out of it... but that's the magic of his writing.
It's warm. Gentle. Empathetic.
We don't jump into the mindset of the suicidal teen except through his poetry, his essays, or some of his actions. We see everything from the PoV of his confused but caring father, who, fortunately or unfortunately, snoops through all his son's things. A grey area? Yeah, of course, but in this case he really does admire his son.
Jacob marches to a different beat. Sees things very differently from most. He's an idealist in a crass, crude world. A sensitive boy unable to deal with the very real negative stuff in this world.
His father is just as lost, but in a different way. This is as much his story as his son's.
All of this could go either way, of course, depending on the writing. Mark Lages holds on to this very gently, leading us up to the critical event with love and care.
Best of all, he doesn't take any easy way out. I admire his courage.
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