J. T. Tillman knows life is hard. His dad didn't come back from Desert Storm. His mom died in a car accident and he blames himself for it. A series of abusive foster homes have taught J.T. a lesson. Once he was Jason, an average ordinary kid. But as such Jason was weak and got hurt. J.T.'s ROTC training has helped. He suppresses Jason and focuses on his goal--a scholarship to the Citadel. He will be a soldier and make his parents proud.
What I thought: I want to preface my review by saying this is not a book I would normally read. That being said, I'm glad I read it. J.T. is such a complex, confused mess of a character. I stuck with the book to see if he achieved his goal. The writing style in unlike anything I've ever seen. J.T.'s voice is unique--abrupt and clipped, very suited to his soldier mentality. It reminds me a little of the stream of consciousness style so prevalent in Virginia Woolf's work. I think the style along with the short chapters will appeal to reluctant readers. I hate to label books, but this is definitely a boy book. Heath Gibson understands his audience. However, as a female, I also enjoyed the book. My enjoyment stems primarily from J.T. inner psychological struggle. The ending was unexpected. I'm not sure if you can call it resolved. I won't say more than that because I don't want to give it away. I will say I'm just a little disturbed by the ending and its implications for the book as a whole. Now that I know the ending, I want to re-read the book with the ending in mind. J.T. is a compelling character. I was sorry to leave him. If I had to describe the book in one word, I would have to say intense.
To find out more about Gigged and Heath Gibson, visit Flux and the author's website. You might also check out this interview with Heath over at Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf.
(Woodbury, MN: Flux, May 2010. Review copy provided by publisher.)