When it comes to New Year's resolutions, I think Dawn Bundy has got us all beat. The main character in Kevin Brooks' latest novel wants to defeat God as a way to heal her pain. She says herself that it's not really a New Year's resolution, but the novel opens on the 1st of January, the start of a brand new year, and she's out for the kill, starting tomorrow.
Before she can defeat her enemy, though, she goes to the bookstore to get as much information as possible to figure out what to do. You see, Dawn is fine with her present-day self at fifteen years old, yet struggles with her thirteen-year-old self who holds memories that are not pleasant and lives in a cave within her head. It is a place that is dark, cold, and bleak.
At 15, Dawn is taking care of her alcoholic mother, wondering where her dad ran off to when he left two years ago, and wondering why the two toughest girls in her school have invited her to hang out and party.
There's a Q and A component to the book which is interesting, like present-day Dawn is talking to Dawn-in-the-cave because she's trying to figure out how she feels. And really, it's not that Dawn wants to kill God, as much as she hates that her dad "found" God and used Him as an excuse to hurt her in a way that feels irreparable.
As our story winds from Dawn leaving the bookstore to running into Mel and Taylor (aka Tough Girls at School) to coping with her everyday life, the reader is treated to Brooks' sharply detailed writing. The ending surprises the reader with something not quite expected, but well thought out and well executed.
Having never read Brooks' work before, this was a good book with which to start. While the story itself is dark, at the core, we have a teen in an identity crisis. She is trying to figure out where she is and who she is. Throw in a few complications like caring for parents, deciphering the mean girls, and trying to fit in, and we have a book that I couldn't put down.
I am giving this 4-stars, though, because there were some things that didn't add up for me. Dawn had this horrible crime done to her by her dad and she still loves his favorite music? Most victims would want nothing to do with the person who committed the crime. While Dawn loved her dad, but hated his crime, she's not black and white enough for a teenager. She sees the good dad, even when he was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and loves him. She doesn't really come to terms with bad dad and what he did because she's still struggling with it. When she gets mad at him later on in the book, we can understand why, but there's still suspended belief because we hear mostly about how good a dad he was, until he takes up with the latest addiction that does him in.
Great writing - great story - I look forward to reading more of Brooks' work, but be prepared for the darkness in this story.