Review A Hometown Boy by Janice Kay Johnson
Prosecutor David Owen has fond memories of growing up in small-town Washington State. But he outgrew that place-and his family-long ago and hasn’t felt the need to return. Until the day a tragedy shakes the town and calls him back to a community desperate for hope and healing. In the emotional fallout, he never expects to find Acadia Henderson again.Â
For one teenaged summer they hovered on the edge of a sweet attraction before she moved away. Now as adults, that same attraction is there…only, hotter and way more intense. This seems like the wrong time to find a connection. But it could be the perfect time to move on…with each other.
This was not the book I expected to read. I did not expect to read a touching, tearing apart, gripping novel about schizophrenia and the way that tragedy can completely affect a town. How tragedy can rip apart a town and divide families and friends, and just went in such an amazing direction even when it was an uncomfortable challenging and difficult read.
Essentially the book begins when David’s schizophrenic brother shoots 8 people then himself. his mother who has had to deal with his illness and the fear it wrought for years feels both tremendous guilt, relief and anxiety, and her previous agoraphobia has been amplified with the fear that she would be ostracized for her son’s action and her seeming previous inaction when it comes to her son’s illness. But what you get as the book develops is a much deeper picture not only of the struggles with grief in the surrounding town, how certain people are able to cope with it and how just one person’s acceptance can turn the tides and the feelings of an entire group of people, but also of the illness itself and of how it can overtake not only the life of the person struggling with it but also the life of the person who has been drafted in to help and assist the afflicted, be it a parent, a sibling, a lover or a friend.
We also see how small things, can affect those whose lives have been touched with mental illness and how just pushing harder and further to get help can sometimes save and entire community.
On top of the schizophrenic episodes that are detailed, and the illustration of the effects that it has on society and the surrounding culture, when one act of desperation from someone that is mentally ill has you get this overall picture of a family torn apart, separated by theories as it has to do with how to deal with their mentally ill brother, child, friend.
Then you have the guilt and the understanding and the anger that the other family members and friends of the victims are dealing with and then you have the two main survivors, the brother and the daughter of a man murdered, rekindling their romance and trying to figure out if it could work, given their circumstances and how it would work, if they were to do this given their history and their family members enduring legacy .
Tragic, deliberate, emotional, complex, rich, and an amazing read.
Overall Rating: B+