Title: Boy Shattered
Author: Eli Easton
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary, YA Romantic Suspense
Page Count: 317 pages
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
You’ll make it out of here, Brian. I swear.
I had everything. I was school quarterback, popular with girls, and my dad was proud of me. I told myself it didn’t matter no one knew the real me. And then I nearly died. Landon saved my life. He’s the bravest guy I know. He came out a few years ago, proud and fierce, and he ran into gunfire to help others. Me, I’m a mess. Can’t even stand to be in a room with the curtains open. But here’s the thing about losing it all: You get a chance to start over and be someone new, someone true. Only how can I move on when the two shooters who attacked our school were never caught? And why do I feel like I’m still in the crosshairs?
Will you kiss me?
When I came across Brian Marshall, the hottest guy in school, dying on the cafeteria floor, I did what anyone would do. I tried to save him. His request surprised me, but I figured he needed comfort, so I kissed him on the forehead. When he survived and came back to school, he was broken in body and mind. He still needed me, and soon we were unlikely besties. But what I witnessed that day woke me up. I want to demand action on gun control, lead protests, raise my fist. I’ll tear the world down if I have to. And if I can get the boy of my dreams and save the world at the same time? I’ll take it. Only I didn’t understand that the horror at Jefferson Waller High wasn’t over.
Eli Easton’s “Boy Shattered” is heartbreakingly tragic. It’s one of those rare books where you don’t just read it, you experience it and at times it’s a difficult read, but as Brian ponders:
It was good that there were people in the world like Landon. It was a tiny defense against the horror that people were capable of. But maybe … maybe that tiny bit was enough. A light in the darkness.
Easton does an exceptional job of showing us every nuance of survivor’s guilt / PTSD – call it what you will – but Brian is hurting so badly and you feel his every emotion down to your gut. It’s raw and honest, and Easton doesn’t sugarcoat the shooting and its aftermath. And as Brian and Landon fall in love, watching Brian slowly rebuild – still broken but recovering – their love story is so tender and life-affirming. Brian and Landon’s romance has more of a YA feel as there are no extended graphic sex scenes, FYI.
Brian’s father is a stark reminder of the mentality of many people in this country and it’s gut-wrenching to see him minimize and deny his own son’s suffering, and the suffering of so many others. FYI, starting with the Columbine school shooting in 1999, there have been 85 school shootings (as of April, 2018.) Those shootings have killed 223 people, including students, teachers and staff. That adds up to 11,100 years of life cut short by gun violence. There are estimates that over 250,000 students have been effected by gun violence. (Source: San Diego Union Tribune, April 20, 2018.)
The only thing that didn’t work for me in this story was Brian learning the identity of the shooters in the matter of few hours, given the police had been working on the case for many months. Also the final action of the shooters seemed overly … melodramatic and almost … unnecessary, given the way Easton has so very carefully shown us the tragedy and horror that can occur in the perfectly ordinary course of anyone’s life (but, then again this may just be my impression – your mileage may vary.)
I highly recommend “Boy Shattered.”
We leave this ground hallowed by blood and tears, to go out into the world and tell our story. Their story. To be agents for change. But most of all to live. Simply life. To love, because in love lies immortality. To remember, always, the value of each moment of life.” (excerpt from Brian Marshall’s poem “18 Chairs”)