Set in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this is crime story mixed with revelations that come from the narrator’s flashbacks. Even though its fiction, the narrator presents the story as memory, as the first time he fell for a girl, Lindsey.
Unfortunately, the girl he desires falls victim to a terrible
crime–rape. The young narrator claims not to even know what the word means. Nonetheless, he, like three other boys in the neighborhood, are suspects.
The narrator and the the two other suspects come from a privileged background, attend a private school and live in a pristine neighborhood. Many wonder how such a dark crime can happen midst so much “sunshine” and innocence.
Walsh does an incredible job of peeling back the layers of each character to reveal their secrets. For Lindsey, it’s not the rape that makes her moody and morose; it’s in fact, therapy, where she turns dark.
In therapy, Lindsey meets cutters and anorexics and sex-abuse survivors, and, thus, she learns how privileged her life has been.
The narrator’s crush on Lindsey is innocent, or is it something darker, like a twisted obsession? At one point, the narrator makes an elaborate structure out of yard clippings that resembles Lindsey.
Two other suspects, Bo Kern and Jason Landry, are even more suspicious. But which one of them is truly guilty of this violent crime?
What at first appears to be a coming-of-age story or a crime story set in the deep south, turns out to be something much richer. In the end, it ponders identity, gender, memory and justice.
M.O. Walsh’s latest novel is The Big Door Prize.
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