Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Blood Brothers

Harazin, S.A. 2007. Blood Brothers.

What can I say about Blood Brothers? Based on the title, it's not one I'd pick up typically. (I don't typically "do" books with blood in the title.) But as with a good majority of books I wouldn't "usually" pick up, I found myself enjoying this one a great deal. From what I can recall, Clay has just graduated from high school, and the narrative begins in the summer before his first semester of college. (Then again I could have my books mixed up, and this could be the summer before his senior year and it's his friend that is getting ready to go to college.) Clay is seventeen and working at the local hospital. He cleans and preps mostly. He does what he's told. He's responsible. He's punctual. He listens. He's closer to the model of a good teen instead of a poster boy of the bad, rebellious sort. But he's not perfect. It's not like he's never smoked or never drank. He's human after all. The book opens with him at the hospital. A girl--a teen girl--comes in in very bad shape. Her death rattles him, shakes him up and snaps him out of the funk that he's been in since he discovered his girlfriend is hitting on his best friend, Joey. Witnessing someone die can put things into perspective. So Clay on his way home from work stops by his friends house. He wants to make up with his friend. He wants to make things right between them. But he finds Joey, naked and alone, in a shed wielding a shovel and going out of his mind. After Joey starts attacking him with a shovel--and does in fact cut him with a shovel--Clay pushes Joey off of him. Joey falls and, I believe, hits his head. Clay calls 911 and soon help is on the way. But Clay's problems are just beginning.

Clay and Joey are from two different classes--socioeconomic classes. Rich kid, poor kid. Privileged and Un. Suddenly Joey's parents, Joey's friends, and to certain (yet small) degree the local cops all find Clay to be the one to blame. Their precious, darling son wouldn't ever consume alcohol let alone drugs if it hadn't been for that rotten kid, Clay. And Joey's friends, well, they're either staying quiet because they know what happened OR they're wildly speculating and spreading rumors that Clay was out to get Joey.

Clay is a likable guy. A good guy. He's a narrator that I really enjoyed. Life isn't fair, but you hope that Clay gets a good break. You want him to succeed. You want him to get what he wants. Joey, well, Joey is a guy we don't see much of in the novel. We encounter him naked in a shed, drunk and out of control. And we encounter him in a hospital bed in a coma. The only other glimpses we see are in Clay's flashbacks.

The situation is tragic. Two friends torn apart by drugs and alcohol. Full of reminders that actions--all actions--have consequences, Blood Brothers is a heartbreaking novel. It's powerful. It's compelling. It's tragic.

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