Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
At twelve years old Denny’s life is a tricky navigation to avoid his abusive, alcoholic, train wreck of a mother. His father passed away years ago and his closest companion is his dog, Ingrid. His mother has always told him he wouldn’t amount to much and that reading and learning how to spell is a waste of time. The annual spelling bee is in four days and Denny still regrets not entering last year’s contest. Friday morning Denny comes downstairs to find his mom dead in her chair. Denny is suddenly conflicted because he isn’t all that sad and thinks he should be more upset. It is his mom after all but she never treated him all that well. His worries are where will he go, who will take care of him, and what will happen to Ingrid? Pretty valid concerns for a kid still in elementary school.
Denny is determined to win this spelling bee and to prove his mom wrong, learning isn’t a waste of time. He knows he has to call someone but doesn’t want to miss the spelling bee, it’s all he has to look forward to. The days leading up to the spelling bee are anxiety filled for Denny. The decisions he has to make are difficult, and there are no good choices to choose from. How long can he leave his mom lying dead on the floor? What will he do with his dog, Ingrid? Will the neighbors find out, call the police and put him in a foster home?
As Denny is on his way home from school he makes a quick stop to grab a coke at the corner store and meets a girl named Sam. Although Sam is four years older they become fast friends. Sam is on a journey across country looking for a better life. I loved the introduction and brief time Sam spent with Denny and the way their paths crossed, each looking for a brighter future. The care Denny expressed toward Sam and the encouragement Sam had for Denny gave them both depth. I instantly felt for Denny as he was fighting against the world and thinking he is more than a product of his surroundings. As the spelling bee gets closer the worry Denny feels each day weighs heavily on him. His struggle with how to make the right decisions are relatable. I really liked the multiple dimensions written into Denny, the sadness he knows he should feel, the regret from not trying and the drive to live each day regardless of his abusive home life. His determination was impressive for a twelve-year-old. I loved the conclusion of the story, and I was happy to see Denny and Sam cross paths again.
Length: 162 Pages
Release date: July 22, 2016
A neglected 12-year-old boy does nothing to report the death of his mother in order to compete in a spelling bee. A tragic coming-of-age tale of horror and drama in the setting of a hot New Orleans summer.
Chad Lutzke, biography
Chad lives in Battle Creek, MI. with his wife and children where he works as a medical language specialist. For over two decades, he has been a contributor to several different outlets in the independent music and film scene including articles, reviews, and artwork. Chad loves music, rain, sarcasm, dry humor, and cheese. He has a strong disdain for dishonesty and hard-boiled eggs. He has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue and Scream magazine. He is a regular contributor to Horror Novel Reviews, Halloween Forevermore and Heavy Planet. His fictional work can be found in several magazines and anthologies including his own 18-story anthology anthology, NIGHT AS A CATALYST. He has written a collaborative effort with horror author Terry M. West, THE HIM DEEP DOWN. In the summer of 2016 Lutzke released his dark coming-of-age novella OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES. Later in 2016, several more releases will be added to Lutzke’s body of work, including his PALE WHITE coming-of-age vampire series, CAR NEX: FROM HELL THEY CAME, 47-16, A David Bowie Literary Tribute and AMERICAN DEMON HUNTERS: BATTLE CREEK with J. Thorn. Stay tuned! Chad can be found lurking the internet at the following address: http://www.chadlutzke.weebly.com