A Hometown Boy by Janice Kay Johnson
January 2, 2013
Reviewed by Mandi
It’s unfortunate this book is being released right after the tragedy in Newtown, CT because there are many similarities. In this book, a mentally disturbed man, steals his mother’s guns and goes on a shooting spree, killing seven adults and himself in the small town he lives in. I feel like I have to note this, because some may find this upsetting. I should also note, this coincidence has no reflection in my grade. I didn’t like this book for other reasons.
David Owen returns to his hometown when he learns his brother commits the horrible murders I mentioned above. His mother recently kicked his brother out of the house, as he was injuring her and refused his medication. She had tried several times in the past to have him committed, but it didn’t work.
Also coming home is Acadia Henderson, whose father was one of those murdered. Acadia and David grew up together but haven’t seen each other in a long time. Acadia has no other family in this town, and soon turns to David for comfort and to comfort him.
I didn’t like this book for two main reasons. First, it’s so darn depressing. It’s a very realistic, and gritty look at the devastation that can occur when something like this happens. This book is full of funerals, grieving families, hatred towards David and his mother for what his brother did. It also shows how a town can come together and there are kind people who don’t blame David’s family…but it is very, very dark. I really didn’t enjoy my time I spent reading it. The blurb (at least the one I read at Goodreads) never mentions the details of the tragedy that brings him home. It’s just a very serious situation and held no interest to me.
Which brings me to reason number two – the romance is non-existent. This is more of a fiction book, with an “I love you” tacked on to the last page. David and Acadia’s romance is barely there, and when it does show up is totally flat. Instead of letting these two fall in love, we learn about every other devastating thing that happens in this town. We have POVs from David’s mom, and this boy named Reeve, whose boss took a bullet for him, saving his life. I really didn’t care about Reeve, or being inside David’s mom’s head. I wanted to see two people fall in love. The author emphasizes how David and his mother lives, two innocent people in this story, can change, cruelly at times. They had no control over what their son and brother did, yet they get the blame. I think the author shows the side well, but this reads like a fiction book, not a romance. A very depressing fiction book at that. The sunshine, happy couple on the cover and the blurb are very misleading.