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The Reckoning

1 rating: 4.0
A book by Howard Owen

Owen (Rock of Ages) offers parallel coming-of-age stories in this hardheaded look at two very different eras. In Richmond, Va., in 2004, 16-year-old Jake James is still dealing with his mother's recent death, his first serious love affair, and his girlfriend's … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Howard Owen
Publisher: Permanent Press
1 review about The Reckoning

Beautifully crafted and connected novel

  • Dec 16, 2010

It’s the first few pages of a book that draw the reader in, and the last that determine the feeling as the cover is closed. Howard Owen’s beginning in The Reckoning was sadly disturbing, but enthralling as well. A dog, a last connection with the absent Carter, disconnected, fading away… It would have been hard to read on after the first chapter; but the scene changes, father and son move house, and new connections beckon.

The end of the novel leaves the reader with a sense of peace after war, belonging after displacement, future hope after losses have crept behind loss. I turned the final page with a sigh; this was a good book, and one I’m glad I read, for all that there were places where I was unsure. It’s a rewarding tale with threads of defiant stability and concern, like a teenager deciding those adult-imposed steps are worth taking after all.

Some of those steps, it seems, were never quite taken by the adults in Jake’s life. His father, George, never followed college room-mate Freeman to Canada back in the 1960’s, despite swearing he would. And now Freeman’s returned to post 911 America, never quite having become who he might have been. A dog that breaks its leash gets lost perhaps, and a dog too tightly tethered is too easily trapped. But Jake’s lost his moorings just as surely as his mother’s dog Butter. The highschooler’s  growing up is threatened by his own despair, by fury of bully, by apparent apathy of parent, by folly of friend; and still somehow mirrors George’s semi-rebellious path. The one who leads Jake forward might end up as tethered and lost as the dog of that first scene. But the end of the book leaves reader and protagonist free to trust in the goodness of people again.

The story slows sometimes. The telling, maybe kindly, overwhelms the showing of emotions too human to bear. And the tale, all told, is beautifully crafted and connected, its truths well-hidden, well-found and well-founded.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Permanent Press, in exchange for an unbiased review.

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