Author: Gail Giles
Description: Right Behind You starts out strong, interesting and well written. It is the story of Kip, a guy who set fire to another kid when he was only nice years old. The thing is, Kip isn’t a psychotic kid. He has some anger control issues and some family issues… but for the most part, he is a normal kid who through circumstances beyond his control was in a position to set fire to the other kid, and Kip did it without a second thought. Until said kid burnt up and Kip’s life was forever altered.
For all of the tough issues this book brought up and addressed, in the end it shied away from anything too dark and gritty. We see a little bit of Kip’s life in a ward for dangerous and psychotic minors. Then the majority of the book takes place as we follow him after he is released. Oddly, this is where the book goes downhill. No matter how normal Kip may have been before the fire incident and the incarceration, and no matter how much psychotherapy he may have had, the bottom line is Kip is still a teenager who should be struggling with normal teenager bad behavior in addition to his hot mess of issues from killing a kid and spending his formative years in a ward for dangerously mental ill boys. But when Kip is in the real world, he does pretty well. When he makes a mistake, he eventually realizes it and alters his behavior. He strives to be a good kid and do the right thing; and he frequently succeeds. Sorry, I’m not buying that. Author Gail Giles shows us Kip and other kids (in the ward) at their worst, yet she is unwilling (or unable) to show Kip truly having any difficulty adjusting to the real world.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved Right Behind You while reading it, and it is a well written book. But for all of the interesting issues it brought up (child murderers, appropriate punishment, the media, forgiveness, teenage drinking, sexuality… just to name a few!) in the end, I couldn’t help feeling that it glossed over the truly tough aspect of dealing with any these topics. Three stars while reading this one, but ultimately a two star book.
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