If you are looking for a schmaltzy High School romance, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a gritty angst-ridden portrayal of a victim, again look elsewhere. If you want a unique look at the effects of bullying and abuse on LGBT youth from the perspective of the perpetrator on his journey to realization and redemption, The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick is the book for you.
Title: The Red Sheet
Author: Mia Kerick
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
From the Publisher:
One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape.
Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it.
Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.
Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.
The Red Sheet had me in awe from beginning to end. Honestly, I don’t feel worthy to review it; I just hope I can do it justice.
The tone for The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick is set from first page with a beautifully powerful foreword written by fellow Harmony Ink Press author, Cody Kennedy.
TO BULLY is to commit an act of violence, even if only in subtle ways. From the nasty homecoming queen who accuses you of transmitting a virulent disease when you accidentally brush her backpack in the hall; to the creep who knocks your book off your desk, then kicks it down the aisle in class–then kicks you where it counts when you bend to retrieve it; to the cool guy in school who is certain you’re diseased and says “get the hell away from me” when you try to sit next to him—in the last open seat on the bus; to the loser who punches, kicks, and shoves you repeatedly simply because you’re there; make no mistake, bullying is the most prevalent form of violent abuse in society.
Kennedy goes on to draw you a picture of today’s youth that will scare any parent out there, and, hopefully, make any person out there think twice about their words and actions. Bullying isn’t a new thing, and it isn’t limited to LGBT or youth. As I sit here with my 2 youngest children by my side watching a rather popular cartoon aimed at the 2-4 year old crowd, I am hearing things come out of the characters mouths that make me cringe. It brings me right back to the lessons taught from word one of The Red Sheet.
The Red Sheet drew me in and wouldn’t let go. Once I did put the book down for the night, I dreamed about Bryan and Scott. It then waited not so patiently through the next day, calling to me, until I could pick it up again and finish the story. It isn’t the ending you would expect, but it is a fitting ending.
The “change” in Bryan lends The Red Sheet a bit of a fantastical air, but as you journey with Bryan, you understand the depth and beauty of the story. Bryan is a bastard, but as he discovers little bits about his true level of douchebaggery, he grows as a person.
Looking at the world with his frightened and egotistical eyes
In the end, he comes full circle as he accepts who he was, what he did, who he is now, and, most importantly, whom he wants to be.
I love that Scott doesn’t let Bryan off the hook for his past actions, just because he says he has “changed”.
“You really hurt me. And I’ll probably never forget how much… like, I think it’s something that is going to always stay with me.”
I love that, though Bryan was part of the “worst night of [Scott’s] life”, Scott, slowly, becomes receptive to what Bryan has to say. You see the effects of the abuse through the eyes of the abuser. In the case of Bryan, it is a perspective of regret and repentance. I love that, though Bryan is trying to “be the change that [he wishes] to see” in himself, he does not end up perfect.
I want to leave you with one of my favorite passages from The Red Sheet.
… to a profound and permanent change. Without the miraculous “forgetting” everything that had come before, I couldn’t have relearned right and wrong. Without the complete blank spot in my memory, I couldn’t have filled it with the positive characteristics of the new me.
I would like to thank Harmony Ink Press for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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