Hello there FEELINGS, how are you today?
I was ready to give this two stars until the 50% mark. The story moved along a little too slowly for me, a little too haphazardly. Sure, the characters were, maybe great isn't the right word, but intriguing. Ever so intriguing. Still, I thought, this will probably two stars. Man, was I wrong.
Boy A will be on my top reads of 2015. I'm considering bumping up my rating to five stars. Because that last half. Emotions. Scattered all over the place. I'm not sorry to say some of my friend literally told me to take it easy, not ramble so much incoherent gushing. Right now I'm still not done gushing out my feels for this book, so I apologize if this review is a mess.
Boy A is the story of Jack, who after years in prison is now released to the real world. His crime? When he was in his early teens, he and another boy murdered a young girl, Angela, and it became a national tragedy. The boys were hounded, terrorized by media, and generally what you'd expect. When Jack is released from prison he gets to choose his own name, which he decides will be Jack. In the real world he is nobody, a new person as close to no one knows his history and real name. He's free from the people who bullied him when he was young, free from all bad childhood memories, and most importantly, his crime, although that still haunts his mind. But now he can experience friends, having a girlfriend, living on his own.
If Jack had been nine months younger he would have been innocent, simple as that. How can you have definitions and scales about murder? Why was it all right for the CIA to kill Che in cold blood, a man who really might have changed the world? Or the innocent people in Chile, Argentina, East Timor, Congo, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti, Guatemala, Turkey, Brazil, the Philippines. Political mass murders, that are lucky to make the paper at all. Crimes committed by mercenaries, men who kill for money, not seen to be as bad as someone who acts from some nameless sickness, shameless sudden impulse?
Let me tell you this: Jack's character isn't the most important part of the story. It's about how people are affected, family and friends, the country, people involved with the crime. It's about who is guilty, what is guilt. It's about power and desire. It's about so much.
Does that mean he's evil? Or is it without those urges he could not be good? If being good is a denial of the bad then those we deem evil are not worse, they are weaker. And if goodness means anything at all, surely it means the strong helping the weak.
In the end thought, it's hard to say who is right and who is wrong. A tragedy will always be a tragedy, but there can always be more to the story. Maybe it's impossible to win.
Only the young die good. And Angela Milton died young enough to be perfect. A martyr to modern society. Evidence that we are fucked. Thought records suggest we always have been.