THE AUTHOR: Chris Lynch
THE PUBLISHER: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
THE YEAR: 2007
THE LENGTH: 176 pages
SYNOPSIS: “I am a good guy. Good guys don’t do bad things. Good guys understand that no means no, and so I could not have done this because I understand.”
Keir Sarafian knows many things about himself. He is a talented football player, a loyal friend, a devoted son and brother. Most of all, he is a good guy.
And yet the love of his life thinks otherwise. Gigi says Keir has done something awful. Something unforgivable.
Keir doesn’t understand. He loves Gigi. He would never do anything to hurt her. So Keir carefully recounts the events leading up to that one fateful night, in order to uncover the truth. Clearly, there has been a mistake.
But what has happened is, indeed, something inexcusable.
WARNING: SPOILERS MAY FOLLOW
….and rants…probably rants…
INEXCUSABLE is just that: inexcusable.
Narrated by Keir, who has nearly everything any senior in high school could ever want (A supportive family, good grades, a scholarship to the school of his preference won on his athletic acuity), INEXCUSABLE is supposed to be a look inside of a young sexual offender’s mind. I’m unclear as to if I was supposed to feel sympathy for Keir or if the book was purely meant to be a case study, but either way, I failed find enough investment in the story or the characters to experience even a glimmer of either possibility.
It is not often that I put a book down before I finish it. It’s even less often that I do so less than 50 pages in. I’ve read some books that have been pretty bad experiences (whether it be because they were good books but the content was difficult for me to handle (see the upcoming review of Such a Pretty Girl) or whether they were just not meant for me (see Pixiegate Madoka), but generally I can make it through. At just over 20 pages into INEXCUSABLE, I began to flip through the rest of the book, selecting pages to read at random, hoping that as I came closer to the end of the book something would change. It did not.
So what’s wrong with the book? Let’s take a look at a few Quick Points to get started.
- The protagonist (and narrator) of the book is entitled. Everything happens to him, not because of him. Nothing is his fault.
- Not only is he entitled, he is whiny.
- He is blind and deaf to his entitlement and childishness.
- The death of the protagonist’s mother during his infancy seems to be an attempt to try to lessen the “entitled” vibe, but like the hyper-close connection he has with his sisters, it feels forced and falls flat.
- Because the narrator/protagonist sees the world in one dimension, his dimension, the supporting characters also prove to be one dimensional to the reader.
- A quick stop at half a dozen points later in the book proves that the tone of the narrator (protagonist) never evolves.
LET’S DIG A LITTLE DEEPER
Ready for the ranting? I’ll try to keep it clean.
Kier is disgusting. He’s everything everyone hates about privileged white kids. He’s an upper-middle-class athlete with good grades and a self-claimed reputation as a “good guy”. His assertions that he’s not the kind of guy who likes to party and the forced, sugar-coated relationship with his sisters and dad are enough to choke anyone who has ever had siblings. The only thing that seems to be wrong with Kier’s life is that his mother died when he was an infant – which means he doesn’t remember her. But, (Never Fear!) his father keeps a picture of her on an unused piano and “marches” his kids to her grave multiple times a year, so Kier loves and misses her anyway.
Nothing really bad has even happened to Kier, well, except for that one thing. That one time that he accidentally paralyzed another kid during a football game because he’s just so good at following the rules. It wasn’t his fault, though, and he was so good at making it not his fault that he got a bunch of scholarship offers from it. He wasn’t even playing his position. He’s a kicker, not a… okay, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t invested enough to absorb what position he was playing when he tackled the unfortunate quarterback whose career, and probably life, he ruined. BUT, he got that scholarship. Wow.
We’re 20 pages into the book and we have hardly any idea of what is going on with Kiki (a girl who Kier asserts he loves but who is calling their parents and her boyfriend on because he did something wrong… still unclear as to what it is at this point unless you’ve done even the most meager of research on the book). We do, however, know that Kier lives an almost perfectly ideal life and that whatever has happened with Kiki is sure to be a real inconvenience.
I think I get what Lynch was going for in attempting this book, but the first person narration by an unreliable protagonist does him no favors. Maybe someday, when I feel like torturing myself, I’ll return to the book to see if the story progression makes up at all for the many faults so blatantly prevalent in these early pages, but probably not.
No stars. Please god, don’t ever make me read this book again.
…And he wrote a sequel.