When I was in NYC earlier this month, my eyes spied the gorgeous cover of K.M. Walton’s debut novel, CRACKED. I coveted it immediately, and my editor was kind enough to slip me a copy. This book will be out January 3, 2012. Full disclosure: K.M. Walton is a fellow Apocalypsie and we share an editor. Read below to see what I thought.

Here is the official blurb from the publisher:

CRACKED

Sometimes there’s no easy way out. 

Victor hates his life. He has no friends, gets beaten up at school, and his parents are always criticizing him. Tired of feeling miserable, Victor takes a bottle of his mother’s sleeping pills—only to wake up in the hospital.

Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. That makes him feel better, at least a little. But it doesn’t stop Bull’s grandfather from getting drunk and hitting him. So Bull tries to defend himself with a loaded gun.

When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, there’s no way to escape each other or their problems. Which means things are going to get worse—much worse—before they get better….

****

CRACKED is about two guys who are polar opposites, one with less than nothing and one who seemingly has everything. Okay, I know what you’re thinking. These guys are going to find out that life sucks for everyone, kumbayah, and let’s all be friends. Lessons learned. WRONG. This book cannot be boiled down into a clichéd movie of the week.

Victor and Bull are so well drawn, so heartbreakingly described that the story gets under your skin. You’ll be glad to know that each voice sounds different – not an easy thing to pull off in a dual narrative. Victor has a tenderness to him that Bull lacks. They’ve each found different ways of coping with their home life. One of Bull’s survival mechanisms is to torture Victor.  I thought this would make it impossible for me to sympathize with Bull or want to root for him. Honestly, he’s not that likeable for a lot of the book.

BUT..Walton makes it clear that Bull is a product of his environment. He is what can happen to kids who aren’t protected, and survival isn’t always pretty. On the other side, a reader might not feel too sorry for Victor. Compared to Bull, maybe his problems aren’t as huge. Yet, I didn’t find myself making those comparisons. Being hospitalized forces these two boys to confront their problems…and each other. It isn’t nice when it happens, either, but it does feel real.

It would’ve been so easy for Walton to take the story to this melodramatic place where Bull realizes the error of his ways, changes his personality entirely, and comes out a better man for it. Or Victor forgives Bull for bullying him, and they’re like brothers. I’m not going to tell you what happens, but know that the resolution to this novel isn’t neatly tied up. It’s messy and real because life for these two boys isn’t a fairy tale.

Warning: I cried twice.

I give this book 5 stars out of 5. And yes, I am beaming with pride that this book is from my imprint and my editor.

 

Check out the links below to see what the other Bookanistas are talking about!

Elana Johnson interviews Elle Strauss, author of Clockwise
LiLa Roecker discusses S R Johannes’ e-book experiment
Christine Fonseca  is wowed by The White Assassin – with giveaway
Shannon Whitney Messenger loves Lola & the Boy Next Door – with giveaway
Beth Revis delights in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – with giveaway
Shelli Johannes-Wells falls for Fracture
Carolina Valdez Miller adores Ashfall – with giveaway
Jessi Kirby marvels at The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Shana Silver steps up to Audition
Stasia Ward Kehoe swoons for Swan and To Dance