Cheerleader Claudia King refuses to leave her teacher and friend when she’s shot aboard the athletic bus following Friday night’s football game. Her boyfriend Casio Hightower is also shot in the altercation, but unlike Ms. Remington, he survives – though their relationship does not. Ten years later both have moved on – Claudia is married with a child, and Casio is dating seriously – but neither have forgotten their experience on board the bus. When Claudia’s lawyer husband decides to reopen the case, can he and Casio find the elusive killer – before anyone else dies?
I have very mixed feelings about this book. The characters are not the cardboard Christian type – they’re real and flawed and confused, much like any other human on this planet. For that reason, I was enthralled by the mystery in this story and couldn’t wait to solve the case. I cheered Claudia for taking steps toward her healing even as I mourned the way she was often hurting those who loved her most. I wanted to like Casio as I could see great potential in him, but his flaws made him difficult to like. Ultimately, I would have liked to see more of Claudia’s husband Victor as he seemed to have the best handle on what was happening. Without him, this would have been just another mystery – but his faithful influence made all the difference.
As much as I liked the authenticity of the characters, I disliked the ending. A sudden twist at the end kept me from predicting the ending entirely, but the conclusion came abruptly, and even though all loose ends were wrapped up, I felt at odds when the book ended. The major issues that kept Claudia suffering from PTSD for a decade seemed gone too quickly, and with faith issues on the peripheral of the main characters’ vision for much of the book, the resolution just seemed too fast.
Ultimately, this book explored trauma and our reactions to it in several different ways. Many books pull you in and make you feel as if you’ve experienced what the characters have – and so you can see yourself taking similar actions if you’re ever in that kind of situation. Not so with this story – I felt as if this was more of a “what not to do” than “here’s how you do it.”
I thoroughly enjoyed Jakes’ writing style and am interested in reading more of her work for the realistic characters – but this story is not one I’ll read over and over due to the negative feeling I was left with.
I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.