This was an advanced reader copy for the May 2018 publication. There are minor spoilers ahead.
Title: Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe
Author: Preston Norton
This week wrecked me. Between my pup’s cancer diagnosis and a rush to get my dad to urgent care, I spent Thursday a mess of nerves. As I prepped for the shit-show I didn’t even realize fully was coming, I grabbed Norton’s book from my To Be Read pile.
Norton weaves a contradictory tableau of high school. It’s equal parts depressing and uplifting. The sort of angst/comfort Tumblr will love. I imagine a lot of Instagram photos with #feels. Somewhere Preston Norton will likely be cackling if his personality is anything like his writing (hilarious, heartfelt, and raw).
Clifford ‘Cliff’ Hubbard faces bullies, his brother’s suicide, and his father’s abuse. Just one has been enough to sink even the strongest people, but Cliff pushes on, aching from the open wound of his brother’s suicide more than the unrelenting cruelty of his peers and his father. When a near-death experience has a bully knocking on his door, it’s like his brother, Shane, has reached out from beyond the grave.
One of the most important questions this book posits is: how much better could the world be if we just tried? Tried to reach out to each other. Tried to consider the consequences of our actions and words. Tried to foster compassion and open environments where death isn’t the catalyst for change.
I saw a crucial secret coming from about half-way through the book, but it didn’t take away from the gut punch of the reveal at the end. Definitely would recommend taking the time to order this one. Your future self will thank you.