Right Behind You
Emotional and a Great Story
Reader reviewed by Lisa
in a sentence or two: after a horrible (alleged) accident, Kip is trying to find some sense of normalcy as he transitions from a ward for juvenile delinquents into high school life. Kip has to keep to keep his past a secret, but how long do you keep such a sordid past locked inside?
Kip burned his 7 year old neighbor alive. he was only 9 at the time. to be fair, Kip was dealing with some pretty heavy stuff for a 9 year old - his mother had died of cancer, he lived with his dad out in the great Alaskan nowhere, and that neighbor kid was taunting Kip with his brand new baseball glove and teasing him that he didn't have a mom to give him one. but still...Kip took the gasoline, doused the glove (and neighbor in the process) and tossed the lighter. he wakes from a catatonic shock-coma 4 weeks later and prepares to spend the foreseeable future in juvie.
Kip's story starts from the accident in Alaska and transitions to his time in juvie. Giles was able to paint a pretty vivid picture of the fellow offenders, the process of rehabilitation and counseling, as well as Kip's inner thoughts as he grows older and living his life "behind bars" so to speak. it then moves along to high school which, lets be honest, is already anxiety-filled enough without being from no-where Alaska and having spent your childhood in juvie (which isn't really the best setting for social development). despite all that, he makes friends, does well in school, and even joins the varsity swim team. unfortunately, Kip finds that keeping his secret isn't easy...
let me just say that i LOVE Gail Giles. she writes some of the best nail-biters for young adults out there. but more than that, her books - including this one - have some honest, deep, and complicated characters. from Kip's shrink in juvie, to Kip's remorseful father, to his step-mom, even his teachers at his new school, the characters in this book are not perfect - but redeemable. the creativity and plot were incredible, but i feel the characters are what really made this book amazing. Giles also examines the psychology behind what was going on throughout Kip's journey, which i found fascinating.
i loved the first two Giles books i read: What Happened to Cass McBride and Shattering Glass. i was not disappointed with this one. heck, i was thrilled! i read the thing in 2 days (with working and having an all day seminar). for such a heavy theme, the book provides thoughtful reflection, how important the support of family can be, and the beauty of hope. this is a book i'd re-nerd over any day!
fave quote: "I turned ten. Ten. I should have been in boy scouts. I weighed sixty-two pounds. I had a loose back tooth. I had murdered another child." (18)
fix er up: i'm not sure there's anything i'd change about this. maybe, just maybe, have a more developed conclusion (aka - i want to know what happens after the story). that's not really a fix er up, more of my being so absorbed that i want to know everything that happens ever in the life of Kip.
Reader reviewed by Samantha
One of the best books on my reading bowl list! I thought it was werid that toward the end of the book i was really likeing this guy. And what was even werider....the girl he liked, had my name!
But I think the one he intrusted his secret too understood at least more then those stupid idiots that found out when he got drunk.
Best book I have read that isn't really paranormal.
Good Book, Stupid Title
Reader reviewed by Brenda
By the author of What Ever Happened to Cass McBride.
Kip McFarland is a troubled and angry 9 year old boy living in Alaska when he kills another child. Was it an accident or is Kip a devil child as some of his neighbors think? The case is written about in the national papers and while Kip is in state mental ward for dangerous juvenile offenders, his father has to change his name and move. Several years later, Kip is released, and he and his father and new stepmother move to Indiana. He has changed his first name to Wade and no one there knows who he is. But is he ready to adapt to the big wide world? Has he conquered his anger?
Most of this book is about Kips attempts to fit into teen society in Indiana. There is an occasional passage by someone who seems to be reading about Kips life, I found those passages to be an intrusion to the story, as we have no idea who this person is. This was a very good book afflicted with a very bad title. Right Behind You sounds like some kind of a thriller or a mystery, but this book is neither of those. Its about learning to accept your mistakes and dealing with the guilt, not to forget them, or pretend they didnt happen. Theres some psycho-babble thrown in, but its mostly mocked by Kip/Wade, which makes it interesting background information. Kips mistake happens to be a big one, but the things he learns can apply to anyone who has made mistakes in their lives that they think cant be overcome. Excellent book for anyone who is angry about the things that have happened to them, especially for angry young men. Middle school and up.
Reader reviewed by mlecompt
When Kip was nine he poured gasoline all over another boy and burned him to death. After spending four years in an institution, Kip is ready to try starting all over with a new name in a new place, but his guilt keeps giving him an urge to self-destruct.
Gail Giles doesn't write easy books. Her characters are deeply flawed and their situations can be quite horrific. This book is no exception. However, it is an excellent book because although almost no one could have personal knowledge of what Kip has gone through, Giles writes him so well that the reader really feel like he/she is in Kip's head. His situation never seems far-fetched or unrealistic. In this story the unimaginable is real and the reader watches as Kip deals with it.