Staring at Nothing

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Staring At Nothing: A Reynolds Novel

Last Free on: 16th Dec 16
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...A strong YA coming of Age story, with appeal outside its target group. Staring at Nothing is a strongly-written and extremely re-readable novel....

After his parents’ divorce, teenager Garrison Rice ends up with his dad and starts a new school at Reynolds. He swiftly makes a new friend, Iver, but when others think Iver is the wrong kind of friend Garrison’s life quickly becomes hellish – or even worse than it already is. Because Garrison’s home life is already a nightmare, and his father’s alcohol abuse only the tip of the iceberg.

Presentation-wise, “Staring at Nothing” is a novella written in a single piece with no chapter breaks. The spelling and grammar are fine, although understandably colloquial given the first-person view. There is a short section from another book “Grasping at Straws” at the end, but it is less than 1% of the download, and usefully demonstrated that the writer maintains the quality of writing in his other works.

This is a Young Adult coming of age story, written in first person from Garrison’s point of view. I will warn readers upfront that this is a dark story in places, covering issues including bullying, suicide, LBGT issues and child abuse. The lessons Garrison learns are hard, coming to terms with the idea that you can’t save everyone, and he has difficult decisions to make throughout. In some ways the bullying is a little stereotypical, matching the way school bullying is shown on American television shows. I don’t know about US schools, but the British schools I know would be calling the police and pressing assault charges if any students acted like that. On the other hand, the portrayal of teen LGBT issues is both sensitive and depressingly accurate.

That said, it is an extremely readable story with a hopeful ending. It is a surprisingly complex novel, despite the short time (a matter of days) that the events take place over. We learn Garrison’s past, his hopes, likes, dislikes, and fears, even as the situation at Reynolds unravels. He is a likeable enough character that I really hope he found a happy life after the end of this ebook, although it is going to take him time to heal.

The writing deserves special mention. Garrison has a distinct voice, and his character comes through not just in actions and thought but in word choice and phrasing. It is also a book worth a second read, as on a second read through it gains extra depth and several of Garrison’s comments change meaning entirely. Threatening someone close to him is taken at face value on a first read, but on a second when you know the actual relationship between them, his conflict is palpable.

A strong YA coming of Age story, with appeal outside its target group. Staring at Nothing is a strongly-written and extremely re-readable novel.

Rating: 4
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