“Grist Mill Road” by Christopher J. Yates #BookReview

Georgia Kostopoulou

33898903In 1982 I was a one year old baby. In 1982, three teenagers were bound together by a terrible crime. Matthew and Patrick (Patch) are two boys that hung out a lot. Their usual spot in the mountain where they play around with a BB gun. Only that day, the day that Hannah is with them, the game becomes beyond they could ever imagine. Hannah is tied to a tree. She is being shot with the BB gun by Matthew. When the shots are over, the boys think she might be dead, but it turns out she is not. But she has lost her eye. And there is nothing she could do to recover this situation.

Twenty six years later Patrick and Hannah are married. She is now a crime reporter working for a New York tabloid and is also writing a true crime book, based on her experience in the Grist Mill Road that she used to live on. All this time, the couple was happy together, happy to have found each other and happy to live somewhere away from the horror that their lives went through.

The story starts with the ugly scene of that crime and it unfolds through Patrick’s memories of the past, as he might be sharing them with his therapist, or in a kind of personal journal. His narrative moves between present and past and at some point we get to see also Hannah’s point of view as well as Matthew’s. There are so many differences in those. So many different hidden points that led to that day, that one could not imagine. There is no justification for what Matthew did. There is however a very good view of what lead to each and every one’s action before, during and after that day. One could never thought what might lie beneath the surface.

Full of secrets and misunderstandings, the story that the reader actually gets in the end is very disturbing. After having known all that have happened in the past and all those that are undergoing in the present, the reader find themselves in an awkward position. So many deeds that have gone unpunished. So many unkind acts that destroyed so many lives. What used to be the norm is nowadays criticized and if it was happening today, in a more civilized town or city, most of those actions would have not have happened. Or maybe it would all go like this all over again.

The thing is that people are so occupied with what others think of them. They need to make sure that any ugly thing that may happen to them, doesn’t get out. Because people are mean. Children can be really mean and they can hurt other people’s feelings without even realizing the bad they are doing. And this is only part of the problem. Then there is alcoholism, domestic abuse, poverty, drug addiction, bending the law for certain people, targeting people with specific sexual orientation, fitting in and don’t stand out. All would be better if our society were simpler.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. The views expressed are my personal and honest opinion.


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