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Don’t Look Now

Meghan reviews Right Behind You by Gail Giles, an intense story about ramifications of past mistakes.

Don’t Look Now

BOOK REPORT for Right Behind You by Gail Giles

BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 1
Talky Talk: Hard Core with a Psych Degree
Bonus Factor: Sailing
Relationship Status: That Really Intense College Friend You Don't Really See Anymore But Think About Often

The Deal:

When he was nine, Kip doused a 7-year-old in gasoline and set him on fire. Released from a mental hospital for criminal kids, he and his dad and new stepmom change their names and move from Alaska to Indiana to start over. Kip's now going by Wade, and struggling more than ever with his guilt over the past and whether or not he's capable of being a normal kid.

BFF Charm: Yay

I know, what?!? But he murdered a little kid! The book's told through a bunch of journals Kip writes for an anonymous (at first) friend who shares some of the book's narration, and you can totally understand what happened. Kip was just a little kid, his mom had just died, he had major anger issues his dad wasn't helping with, his dad was fighting with his aunt who wants to take him away, and some snotty little kid shows up and starts gloating over a new baseball glove. So Kip set the glove on fire, not really meaning to set the kid on fire, too. Plus, just reading about his struggles to figure out what kind of person he really is -- good or bad -- make you just want to promise him you'll never leave him to eat lunch alone. Cos yeah, he's way messed up, but he's also a good guy.

Swoonworthy Scale: 1

There's not really anything sexy at ALL about criminal children and psychiatry and immolation. So even though Kip (as Wade, once he moves to Indiana and later Texas) has a girlfriend in Indiana and meets an awesome girl named Sam in Texas, this book is not about the sparks. It gets a token 1 for the ending and Sam's awesomeness, but that's it. And that's really ok.

Talky Talk: Hard Core with a Psych Degree

Kip is searing about his past and actions, and leaves nothing out. There's also a fair bit of psychoanalysis and some Buddhist philosophy about hungry ghosts and long spoons thrown in, and while it doesn't come across as hokey, it walks a fine line.

Bonus Factor: Sailing

This might only be a bonus factor for me, but Kip and Sam spend a lot of time sailing a hobie cat around in the Gulf of Mexico, near Freeport, TX (TEXAS! THE GULF! Oh, I miss you so much). I love sailing, even though I've only sailed on a lake, and I could almost feel the green-gray gulf water slapping up through the canvas trampoline-like floor of the catamaran and soaking my skin.

Casting Call:

Milo Ventimiglia as Kip/Wade

Ventimiglia has the right combo of surly and sweet, cocky and confused to be Kip. Although I really can't picture him playing someone named Wade (Really? Wade? And just skip over the part where Kip explains how he chooses the name).

Blake Lively as Sam

Sam's tough and confident, but also vulnerable with secrets. Plus, I bet Blake can totally look awesome in a wetsuit sailing a catamaran at high speed on rough waves.

Relationship Status: That Really Intense College Friend You Don't Really See Anymore But Think About Often

This book and I had a totally crazy intense relationship where we talked about deep, serious things over cups of bad coffee late at night. After graduation, when we had to focus on mundane things like rent and food, and couldn't think so much about existential crises, we stopped talking so much. But even though we haven't seen each other in years, I still worry about it and wonder how it's doing -- if things worked out with that girl it was seeing, if it's happier now than it was in college, if it's learned to see the value in frivolous things as well as serious. I learned a lot from this book, and it made me think hard about human nature, but we were never destined to be together forever. Cos I gotta say -- I devoured this book, but it's some heavy shizz and when I put it down, I reached for my latest copy of InStyle.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.