Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Just Gone Review

Just Gone by William Kowalski

(from the back of the book)

When Jamal and his sister Chantay arrive at Mother Angelique’s inner city homeless shelter, they are hungry and scared. Their mother is dead and they are on their own. Angelique is fascinated by Jamal’s stories of a man named Jacky Wacky, who protects the abandoned children of the city – and punishes those who harm them. A God-fearing woman, Angelique doesn’t believe the stories at first. But strange things happen whenever Jamal is around, and she is ultimately forced to admit that the world may contain stranger truths than her faith can explain.

Just Gone is a Rapid Reads novel and true to its name it won't take you long to read. It is only a hundred pages or so and the print is nice and big. But the story spans several decades. And I think the large time span coupled with the short length limits the depths of the characters to some extent. You get to know the narrator, Mother Angelique, best because she is, obviously, a constant in the story. But the two children we are introduced to that she is trying to help we only see in little snapshots. We see them as little children and then we get to see them after they have had to survive in the world for years on their own. You get the idea of what happened in the intervening years but no details. So you don't really get to know them that well. The story does a good job of giving the reader a feeling for the despair and hardship of poverty and living in the streets. But it does so without leaving the reader without any hope of better things to come. It has the feeling of an urban legend to me. (Which is appropriate considering the plot.) It’s like a story told over and over until some of the details have been lost and some things have become rather vague. Everyone has heard it but no one can remember how it started and you are almost sure if you hear it again it will not be exactly the same. The concept is good and the narrator interesting so the book is a good way to spend an hour or so but if it had been any longer I think I would have lost interest.

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