Ryan G. Van Cleave
With his father as the schools janitor, no one is willing to talk to Andy, unless they are making fun of him. His days are filled with constant torment and desire for unobtainable things. Andy accepts his place in the high school food chain& until the rumors begin.
Andy finds himself in the path of the social outcast, Noah, by accident. But then the two become friends. Noah and Andy have a bond. A secret that no one else knows. Then the poison of doubt starts to creep in to Andys mind. What if? As the days inch closer to the mysteriously blacked out date on Noahs calendar, Andy finds himself asking what if a lot. What if his dad had died in the war like Noahs? What if his only friend was planning a school massacre? What if he was wrong? Andy has big choices to make, and his decision will haunt him for a life time.
Ryan Van Cleaves novel, Unlocked, is an untarnished insight into the minds of young adolescents as they enter high school. Written in prose, the story instantly catapults you into Andys lonely life as a high school freshman. The plot moves quickly in the novel. As you read, you cant keep your mind from drifting to scenes from the nightly news, depicting the violence associated with the numerous school shootings we have experienced.
There are several layers that could be applied to the characters in the novel. On the surface its a simple story of doing the right thing. As you dig deeper, however, you start to notice other subtle elements. The story then becomes one of dealing with grief caused by the loss of a family member in war. Or, the story of a lonely son seeking his fathers approval. Ryan Van Cleave did a splendid job of giving the reader insight into a lonely teenage boys mind, and showing us the struggle between choosing to do what is right or keeping your only friend.