by Rosemarie Boll
I haven’t read a boyish novel in a while when I was asked to review a book so this one of course jumped out at me. It seemed both action-y and emotional. Also, two domestic abuse books back to back? Should I get my head checked?
Summary (paraphrased, goodreads):
What do you do when your father becomes the enemy of your family? A thirteen year-old boy must leave his home, his school, and everything he knows when he goes into hiding with his mother and sister to escape an abusive father. Thirteen-year-old Danny never knew that his father was abusing his mother, until the day his father almost killed her. Now he finds himself in court as his mother fights to have his father kept in jail to keep the family safe. But Danny can’t believe that he is a danger to them, cannot reconcile the father he looks up to with the man who almost took his mother’s life. When the limits of the justice system allow his father to be released, Danny’s mother decides that he and his little sister must accompany her into hiding. They will go to another city and begin a new life, with new identities. And so begins the second trial in Danny’s life
My Expectations: I thought it would good, but this is completely based on the summary. I was pretty excited to read this one.
Delivery: I didn’t find myself loving it, but I didn’t dislike it either. An in-the-middle type of book I guess.
Put-down-ability: pretty low, again, read in one sitting on the plane. 4/10
There was quite a bit going on with the novel, there were the two trials, family tension, and Danny’s internal and external conflicts, but I thought most of this worked well together.
The pacing and the plot was a bit off for my tastes, I thought the “first trial” (the father’s conviction) was both a bit preachy and a bit slow. It took forever to get to the predictable verdict, and the jargon used could be odd at times. I think it was designed to act as a “set up” to the second trial, but it didn’t work as well as planned. It did sound very realistic and official though (from what I know from watching too much TV). One comparison would be it is very John Grisham-y.
I thought that the characterization of Danny and his family was very well done, his love for his father despite his shortcomings felt realistic, along with his resentment for his mother relocating them. It was very like a 13 year old boy to rebel like he did, especially for reasons he doesn’t fully understand yet. The sibling relationship was okay for me, but it was understandable because Danny was his father’s favourite, and his sister was just “there”, something that’s foreign to him.
The overall plot was solid, I thought the ‘witness protection’ thing, the family income troubles, and the other personal issues Danny had were well represented and portrayed. It was a very unique storyline that I was happy to read about.
However, Danny irked me at times, his rebellious attitude and descent into bad behaviour felt a bit off. Maybe it was just me, but I don’t see drinking parties during middle school, and Danny’s constant actions became annoying and frustrating because I did want him to have some character growth but it came way too late. The novel spent too much time going on about Danny’s downward spiral than his growth and healing as a person. I wished there could have been a bit more time dedicated to his turnaround. The people there to help him like Mr. Ishii and Papa Joe weren’t convincing, and I also couldn’t feel the spark between Danny and his love interest.
That said, it doesn't take away from the fact that Boll expertly unravels the horrors that a single abusive family member can cause have on a family; the fear and the hope molds into one as a courageous mother fights for her life and the lives of her children. I think that The Second Trial deals with tough, and extremely important issues with a sturdy hand, not afraid to shy away from difficult truths.
Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
7.5/10- because I thought that although the plot being pretty strong, characterization got on my nerves along with the narration. There were some parts that I was really annoyed with, along with some really realistic parts. Overall, I enjoyed this type of novel which was reminiscent of a few John Grisham novels. I found Danny to be an okay character, I wanted a bit more from him though. B-
Would recommend to people who would like to read about a boy main character, legal-stuff (like Grisham for YA), social issues, and family and personal relations.
source: Second Story Press