Friday, 18 May 2012

Fix By Force - Jason Warne

Seventeen year old Spencer feels alone and isolated. His father died eight years ago in a car collision, a collision which killed a woman. Burdened with that knowledge and living in a small town where his father is despised, Spencer can't help but feel weak.

His relationship with his mother is abusive and disintegrating fast and he has no friends. He looks at himself and sees a feeble and insubstantial image. Is he predestined to be become his father? A potent mixture of fear, self-loathing and loneliness eventually leads to his use of drugs. Spencer needs to fix his life and he wants it to be immediate. The only way he knows how to become stronger and a force to be reckoned with is to inject himself with steroids. He's read about the side effects, he knows the dangers - he'll be fine. But little does he understand that these fixes maybe quick but it doesn't mean they're right.

Warne's debut novel is powerful, hard-hitting and beautifully written. I couldn't put this book down and read it in a day. From page one I was hooked (pardon the pun!) as to how this story will develop. I felt helpless as I 'watched' an intelligent young man, ripped apart emotionally by bullying and family circumstance, turn to drugs. I see how he gets to that decision but I still just wanted to reach in (to the book) to stop him from making this mistake.

The authors portrayal of being part of a dysfunctional family (an estranged uncle, a demonstrative mother battling her own demons), dealing with bullying and having low-self esteem are effortless. Together they combine to create a world that is flawed yet Spencer has an inner strength that he doesn't realize he has.

It's a gutsy and raw story but quietly so. The author told this descent in to despair completely from a seventeen years old viewpoint - his words, expressions, understandings. The profound sadness and quiet courage would have been lost if Warne had the reader hearing the voice of an adult. The characters in this short story are strong and well developed and I felt a lot of empathy for them all.

This book should become part of the curriculum for schools; it's the Lord of the Flies for today's generation - and by that I mean, this book shows how easily a young mind can convince themselves that what they're doing is right, that being bullied, feeling abandoned and lost can make them wonder down a path that's seems fine but is ultimately paved with horror. A very highly recommended read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson publishing as part of their Booksneeze program. The opinions expressed here are my own and I am not expected to give a positive review. 

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