Brooks, Kevin. Lucas. ISBN pp. $
When fifteen-year-old Caitlin befriends a homeless boy one summer, she makes a decision to be a part of his life in spite of what the neighbors think, an unpopular choice for a motherless girl with an alcoholic father and an older brother turning out just like his dad. Lucas’s appeal goes deeper than his mysterious past and enigmatic appearance; the two share a quiet appreciation for nature as well as the loss of their mothers and an appreciation for art. One evening, Lucas saves Cait from the ill intentions of Jamie, the stoned son of a pillar of the community. In doing so, Lucas writes his death warrant–no one denies Jamie Tait anything. When Lucas is accused of a sexual assault he didn’t commit, Cait stands by him, but the community’s need for a scapegoat and desire to protect their own wins out over truth, justice and love.
This has the ring of a classic young adult novel, with its layered issues, haunting feel and themes of lost innocence, betrayal, sacrifice and intolerance. The complexity of Caitlin’s character and the depth of emotion of her as narrator propel the telling of the tale, and indeed from the start, Caitlin’s promise to cry me a story fulfills. The landscape is as much a character as Cait and Lucas, and as integral to the plot and theme. Denser and richer than Martyn Pig (Chicken House, 2001), this beautifully written “story of love and hate” hooks from page one.