by Andrew Gross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Note: This review written as part of my Amazon Vine Voice series
Eyes Wide Open (William Morrow 2011) is the first book I’ve read by NYT and international best seller, and James Patterson co-author Andrew Gross. It is the unique story of a manic-depressive boy named Evan who commits suicide by jumping from the top of the famous Morrow Bay Boulder–or so the police believe. His poverty-stricken parents, who suffer the long-term effects of drug use and their own bouts with manic-depressive disorders, considered Evan their second chance at life and don’t believe their son took his own life. The blame, they claim, lays with the negligent care he received at the hands of the state services for the handicapped. To help with the doctors and lawyers and police detectives, they involve the father’s brother Jay, a successful doctor, who quickly suspects the murderer isn’t the state, but a figure from his brother’s past who has returned to exact revenge.
The story is tightly plotted, well-characterized with a nice rhythm (although I don’t know why Gross had to start by killing a tired old dog. There are better ways to catch my attention). A reprise of the Manson family drama is central to the plot, right down to a charismatic leader and Gross’s version of Squeaky Fromme. The Doc makes brilliant connections from disparate clues that make the plot as twisted as a mountain road, careening toward its unexpected ending. The only drawback is that Gross occasionally repeats himself. I counted four times in the first forty pages where Gross described Evan’s death. Hey–I got it the first time. Thrillers must be fast-paced. Redundancy slowed this one down a tad.
That aside, this is a satisfying read, well-worth the investment of time.
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.