Seventeen year-old Spencer lives in the shadow of Zack, a powerful bully who will stop at nothing to make his life miserable. Spencer spirals through one coping strategy after another, hoping to find some way to keep Zack off his case. He understands Zack’s rage. After all, Zack’s mom was killed in the same car accident that ended Zack’s dad’s life. Only Spencer’s dad was driving drunk.
When Spencer uncovers clues to a part of his father’s life he never knew about, he tries to fit those pieces together. What he uncovers blows his own life apart and lands him in more trouble than he could have ever imagined. The climb back to normal life may be more than Spencer can manage on his own.
For the most part, Spencer is a really likeable guy. He’s trying to figure out who he is and carve out a story for himself in a town that won’t let him forget his father’s mistakes. Some of the scenes are really sharp and packed with emotion and strong narrative. Others, though, seem more like summaries of events, and keep the reader much more at a distance. The characters are varied and interesting, and there’s some real complexity to the plot. Overall I enjoyed it. I like the cover art, too.
Mild profanity used infrequently.
At football practice, Spencer sustains a pretty serious (and bloody) injury. There are some fist-fight type events in the story. The first is more brutal (causes more injuries) than the others. In one scene, a student shoots another student in the chest. Spencer goes from a victim to a perpetrator to someone beyond that who understands the motivation for violence and wants to help others rise above it.
Steroid use is discussed and described in several scenes throughout the book. Many side effects are also described, too, so it definitely shows more of the risks and consequences rather than glorifying the ride, so to speak.