We've all read the horrendous stories and watched the news footage - shootings at schools....
Bryan Reardon's new novel, Finding Jake uses a school shooting as a starting point for his book.
Simon is a stay at home dad to Laney and Jake, while his wife heads out to her job as a lawyer each day. One fateful day, there is a shooting at the children's high school. Simon rushes to the school and anxiously waits to be reunited with his kids. Laney is fine, but Simon is the last parent waiting - and Jake is the only child missing. The suspected shooter was a loner, with Jake being his only friend.
Simon has had many doubts about his parenting skills over the years. He found it hard to mix in with the stay at home moms in the neighbourhood. He projected many of his own fears and insecurities on his children. Laney seemed to be unaffected, but Jake is a quiet child, preferring his own company.
As he waits for new, Simon relives Jake's life - from a baby to the young man he is today. And Simon's doubts, questions, self-recriminations, fears and anxieties about himself, his role as a parent, his childrearing abilities and his son are laid bare on the page. How well does he know his child? Where is Jake? His body was not inside the school - where could he be? Is he alive? Could he possibly be involved? What more could he have to protect his child? What did he do wrong?
Everything we learn is from Simon's point of view. It is as much a search for who is son his as it is a self exploration of himself as a father, husband and person. Despite his self realization, I found it hard to like Simon. As Simon's memories progress through the years, the picture we have of Jake changes. The ending was not at all predictable, though unsettling.
I found the back and forth between the past and present quite addictive. Reardon's prose have such a ring of authenticity to them - he eloquently articulates the fears we all harbour as parents. Reardon himself left an office job to stay home with his twin newborns. Read an excerpt of Finding Jake.
Bryan Reardon is a freelance writer specializing in medical communications. He co-wrote Ready,Set, Play with retired NFL player and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth and Cruel Harvest. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Bryan worked for the State of Delaware for over a decade, starting in the Office of the Governor. He holds a BA in psychology from the University of Notre Dame and lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania, with his wife, kids, and rescue dog, Simon. You can connect with Bryan Reardon on Facebook. See what others on the TLC tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.