Friday, May 15, 2009

Flashback Friday [3]

It's time for Flashback Friday! On Fridays, I feature YA books published before 2002 (I think... I haven't checked). You should try it!

This week I'm featuring When Jeff Comes Home by Catherine Atkins.



Two years ago, Jeff Hart was kidnapped at knifepoint. Now his kidnapper is releasing him to return home. But when Jeff finds his family, he feels shell-shocked and unable to tell anyone what happened. He can't believe that anyone-not even his family or friends-will understand what he went through. Jeff isn't the same person he was before, and he never will be again.

Why You Should Read It:

Honestly, this is one of my fave YA books of all time! It's a book I go back to over and over again and I should probably just buy it already. I've read it at least four times, maybe more and it never gets old. It just impresses me how writers can dig down and write so authoritatively and honestly about such dark topics. I think that's a much scarier book than one about a vampire or a werewolf.

I adore Jeff and his voice in the book. His pain, his confusion, his loneliness, it's all very real. When he acts creepy with his little brother and then hates himself afterward is just an example of the inner struggle that Jeff is going through. Everything is different now that he's back home and everyone has so many expectations. On one hand you want to throttle Jeff for not giving up his kidnapper right away, just like everyone else but at the same time, as the reader, you're right there in his head and this messed up logic that he has going on is the only thing that rings true to him.

I love the relationships in this book. The central relationship is between Jeff and his father. During the two years Jeff has been gone his father has done everything in his power to find him-- including looking through kiddie porno mags for Jeff's picture. Just thinking about that makes me sick. Jeff's dad wants to help Jeff so badly but he also doesn't know what to do and Jeff is not in a position to tell him. The struggle and the love between them is so real. That's one of the best parts of the book. Also, Jeff had a best friend when he was taken, Vin, who tries to reenter his life once he comes back. Vin is very patient and caring towards Jeff, which I loved reading about. But Vin is not perfect and there comes a breaking point. I thought the friendship was very well portrayed and made the story feel more rounded and not so closed in with just Jeff and his family.

All of the uncomfortable moments, the sadness, the horrors of what happened to Jeff and the anger are all building up to the emotional payoff that happens during the last two/three pages of the book. I read the book just for the ending. It always makes me cry. Books don't make me cry that often. For me, it's quite cathartic. I recommend the book based on the ending alone.

It's not a perfect book. Reading it again as I've matured I would change a few things about the writing but not much. No matter what it's always a very emotional, very carefully crafted book with a strong voice and so much passion.

So you should definitely check it out!


I don't have the book on me right now! So... just read it.

Other Works By This Author:

Catherine Atkins also wrote Alt Ed which I read and I enjoyed but not as much as this book. Other than that, I don't know. So if you know Catherine kindly tell her to publish another book and get back on her blog! I'll be waiting.

1 comment:

  1. Great review. You've read this four times and you don't own it. The sampler- made me laugh. I am a book cryer as well. Newbery books almost always make me cry.