Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Fifteenth of June

34377777Can we lose a loved one without losing ourselves?

Twenty-eight-year-old Drew Thomson is haunted by a troubled past. After struggling for years with alcoholism and antisocial behavior, he ends a stable relationship with his girlfriend and finds himself without a home, job, or purpose.

Just as he learns that his father is terminally ill, he meets a stranger who offers him a flicker of hope for a better future. But is he ready to bury the past?

Rich with dark humor and a keen insight into the human condition, this debut fictional release from author Brent Jones delves into life’s most pressing trials—destructive relationships, love, loss, and pursuing happiness.

*May Contain Spoilers*

The Fifteenth of June by Brent Jones explores the impact of childhood trauma onto adulthood and how much strength, courage, and help it takes to move on. As the main character, Drew, deals with the twentieth anniversary of his mother's murder as he also deals with a relationship ending and a terminal diagnosis for his father. 

Drew Thomson is not the easiest character to like. He's very troubled and deals with his depression and lack of emotions with drugs and alcohol. Drew has never been taught how to understand and truly face the struggles that come with life. So he hides from them, alone and inebriated to an extreme point. Right from the start, readers will undoubtedly feel pity for him. I could even see some readers not liking him at all as he doesn't exactly try. His father has always advised him to take life as it is, just accept it, and go with the flow. Yet, following this (bad) advice has only pushed Drew to further dislike himself and create a bad environment around himself. His best friend, Neil, is a horrible person, using drugs, alcohol, and women to create a facade of success and happiness. Though, I think this does well to symbolize the idea of rock bottom that Drew has sunken to. And truly, the only way for Drew to go is up. With the help of a complete stranger, Sierra, Drew decides to try. Try to live, try to improve, try to find his truth and live it. 

The position that Drew starts from is one of darkness and depression. At first, it seems like Drew has completely given up, ready to accept his drinking and drug-induced haze as a way of life. This does make it hard to connect with Drew at the beginning of the book, but it also offers a starting point from which to grow. As the book continues, Jones does a good job at bringing readers to a sense of understanding. There are always reasons behind a person's actions and Jones subtly highlights the motives that deeply effect Drew in order to bring readers into his corner. However, it does become a little frustrating as a reader and a witness to read all of Drew's destructive behavior. Even though, there is a echo of hope as Drew realizes that if he just tried, then maybe something good could come of it because he really has nothing left to lose. 

While Drew faces these internal struggles, his father, Russell, is dying from lung cancer. Russell seems to be the only constant in Drew's life and readers will witness the fear Drew feels as that consistency is threatened. The Fifteenth of June focuses on Drew's inability to live and feel as he thinks a normal person would and then compounds that stagnant and unfeeling nature with external circumstances that could push Drew over the edge. Throughout the novel, though, as Drew makes bad decision after bad decision, he comes to a metaphorical crossroads. He learns that though it won't be easy, by any means, he is capable of change. Because of that, this book can be taken as an inspirational story about a man who overcomes his darkness and looks to the future with a new sense of hope and humanity. 

Rating: 3.5/5 Cups

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