Benjamin’s life is rotten. A bully on the schoolbus, a sexually predatory math teacher, and his mother’s abusive boyfriend combine to make his life more than miserable. He has struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide, but he has no friends or any kind of support, not from his apologetic mother or his estranged father. In fact, no one seems to care about him at all (except for the aforementioned math teacher, whose attentions are repulsive). One day he decides he has had enough (and he has) and carries out a plan to rid himself of his tormentors forever.
This book is well-written and intense, with tight and descriptive prose, but there was more than enough muck in this book to fill one ten times as long. The graphic details of the teacher’s assault turned my stomach. The other characters are certainly not gentle. Though the descriptions of the violence, surprisingly, are somewhat restrained.
I do not like this book, either the descriptions or the content. But these abuses do occur all the time, and the story is all too realistic. Benjamin is in a couple of truly awful situations. If he cannot depend on the adults in his life to protect him, what recourse does he really have? I am not advocating violence, but I can certainly understand how a teenager in Benjamin’s situation would feel like he had no other options. Benjamin’s emotions and actions ring true. He is neither psychotic nor deranged; he has normal teenage reactions (a crush on his Spanish teacher, love and concern for his little brother, hate and despair for his enemies). He is intelligent and self-reliant. His despair elicits compassion, and even his horrific conclusion is understandable and pitiable.
Benjamin is dedicated to “ignored and often-abused children” and hopes to shock readers into paying attention to and taking better care of the children in their lives. I think it does that well.
|Author||Aaron B. Powell|
|Page Count||84 pages|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|
|Category||Mystery, Crime & Thriller|