Mini-series of young adult novels by Ann Brashares
Bristol boyZ Stomp
Author: Doreen M. MCGETTIGAN
Division of numbers is not only the end result of a math problem or the quotient you get when completing the operation. Separations and divisions come when people are biased, facts are tainted and information hidden. One night would change the dynamics of a small town. Loyalties would be questioned and friendships shattered while truths might not be told. Doreen McGettigan had just spent a night out with her two daughters. While enjoying the evening they decided to have a psychic reading, which proved disturbing for Doreen. Relating the event and sharing the psychic’s words the author has an unsettling feeling based on something he says. Driving home with her daughter Joan and pulling into her driveway she sees her sister-in-law Birna pulling out. Concerned at the late hour she stops and questions where she is going. Learning her destination is a hospital and her brother David injured she insists on driving her. Neither Birna nor Doreen understands the message relayed stating that this kind and wonderful father, husband and brother had been in a fight. When the author relates the events and the chronology of the fight as she learns it the attacker and the situation becomes more unbelievable and hard to grasp.
Doreen is a reporter for the Boss County Courier and hopes someone at the paper can give her the information she needs and fill in the missing blanks. Arriving at the hospital the staff takes a while before realizing David is a patient and the doctor in charge seems aloof, clinical and quite unfeeling when presenting her diagnosis.
David and his two closest friends were at band practice for a fundraiser-taking place on Sunday of the upcoming weekend. Driving home from practice he spied a car following him. Stopping to find out what the driver wanted and thinking he knew whom it was proved both dangerous and deadly. As David rolled down his window to speak with the other driver he never expected what happened and could not I am sure understand why since the person was a childhood friend.
As Doreen relates the events even further and learns the identity of the attacker from her daughter and the news media focuses on the story anger wells up inside of her, fear that she will no longer have her brother in her life and questions that no one seems to be able to answer. Jimmy Galione was arrested for the assault of David. While David lies hooked to machines the police was questioning his two friends.
Days and nights pass with family and friends arriving at the hospital and Doreen and Birna hoping beyond all hope for a miracle. But, sometimes the only miracle is not the one you would expect when life support fails and the patient is being moved to another hospital to have his organs harvested to save the lives of others. This would be his final act of kindness and wishes for people who would live because of David.
In order to get to know the author and understand her lack of relationship with her parents she relates her story from the beginning, her marriage at the age of 16 and the birth of her first child at 17. Doreen managed to rise above the lack of interest of her parents and realized her own potential as she became a reporter for a newspaper, had three amazing children and grandchildren. Even when David became ill as a child she stepped up and took care of him and the others when chicken pox invaded her home and she realized she was the true answer to everyone’s prayers. With a mother who had many marital difficulties and several brothers who needed stability and guidance Doreen managed to handle it all. Sharing his life and how he met Birna makes the story come to life even more as we now find out what really happened to David.
David’s death was a result of road rage, gang mentality and murder. All three apply when you read the definitions provided by the author on pages 49 and 50. Jerry Reeves was man who liked cruising for someone to fight or bully. David gave them that excuse of opportunity. Save driving was not something this man advocated or adhered too. When David decided to stop for a stop sign on Wilson Avenue little did he know it would be his last. Safety is something that David prided himself on when it came to driving. Following the laws, not speeding or drinking while driving was something he always did. Jerry found it irritating that David stopped at the stop sign and when the fight ensued and the end result was that he lost, he got his two friends to help him beat David until he was unconscious and his two friends Joey and Anthony too.
Going home and realizing what happened brought the situation into perspective for Doreen yet Birna did not seem to process what happened when concerned about returning a video. Everyone reacts to tragedy in different ways and Doreen decided to recue herself to her room. How could anyone think this was pure Road Rage as reported in many papers when he was beaten to death with a hammer? How do you deal with the funeral? Doreen describes the inner fight within herself. I can identify with her feelings when my sister died last year and I still have no idea what the real timeline of events were from the moment she fell over until the ambulance was called. She died of a heart attack and TBI but no one knows why a healthy person who got a clean bill of health the day before just keeled over and had a massive heart attack.
Memorials were held including a heartbreaking vigil on Wilson Avenue. Arrests were made. Jimmy rearrested for homicide and conspiracy charge and Jerry for murder or homicide. But, when Jimmy was released on bail something snapped in the author and she became disconnected from her family, children and life in general. Rehashing the events, seeing David’s car and trying to rationalize why the police were stalling in arresting the men in the second car. The Jerry and Jimmy would be tried together and seeing their families would not be easy and not saying anything even harder. But, Jimmy’s girlfriend decided to harass and yell at Birna in a shopping mall. Why in the world would someone be so callus and cold?
Frustrations set in and although the trial is about to being some of the murder suspects have not been charged but the Assistant DA Matt Weintraub and the Police Chief asked that Doreen be patient. The anger, frustration, the tears and the uncertainty all come through loud and clear as you hear her words as she relates the story of her brother’s death and much more. The trial begins and the lawyers state their cases in their opening arguments and a division begins within the town of Bristol and in the courtroom itself. Lawyers for the two defendants blaming everyone for the murder except their clients. The Assistant DA stating exactly what happened and who was to blame. Which side would the jury believe? How could the lawyers think that David and his two friends started a fight that would cost him his life? Just how twisted was their thinking even if it was their job.
A town split throughout the trial. Lines drawn more witnesses taking the stand and stating their fears while testifying including the woman who heard and saw the man with the red sweatshirt beating David and begging for his life and did not come forward out of fear. With the help of the Network of Victim Assistance and their support by financially and their presence in court Doreen and her family were able to work through much of their anger.
The jury deliberated for 15 hours and the two were found guilty. But, what happens at the sentencing will surprise the reader and definitely angered Doreen. The judge deliberated the jury’s verdict and decided on his own brand of justice for the two murderers. What the sentence was I won’t reveal in this review because you need to read it for yourself and decide whether you agree with it or not. Following the sentencing the author made sure her voice was heard by the courts, prison system and anyone who was ever involved in the case in order make sure these two would enjoy prison life for a long time. But, what happens next and the evidence the defense claims it has that just might overturn or reduce the sentences is frightening and disheartening to say the least. Jimmy Galione is drunk; drop out and unworthy of the lead in a pencil or the ink his name is printed with in this book. He and his friend Jerry confessed to the murder and the crime. He and his friend bragged about what they did in words and in high fives. Followed by the author’s relationship with her mother and what caused them to be estranged and the things her mother did to her plus her issues with her brother Nick and the sexual assault she endured at the hands of his father as a young girl. Doreen survived more than anyone should.
The ending is so powerful and the faith she finally finds in her life, the love of her family and the blessings David sends from heaven in grandchildren, nieces and nephews cannot make up for his loss but strengthens her within. Finding John in her life and reconnecting with her brother Nick more powerful than words can say. The poem at the end says it all and sums it up perfectly. What happens to the two that killed David you will have to read for yourself as you the reader decides was justice really served? The pain in your heart will never really go away but the blessings that mount up will fill your heart with joy. One judge that needs to look himself in the mirror and really see what others see, one District Attorney never follows through and two families who will definitely pay the ultimate price some day when judgments are handed down from above. This is a well- written, powerful, emotional and heartbreaking dedication of David Albert.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer
To Doreen: What you have accomplished be proud of. Never give up on yourself you have too much to offer. Keep writing and never give up!
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