Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mia Kerick - The Red Sheet - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape. Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it.

Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.

Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.

With a foreword by Cody Kennedy

My Review

Dropping into the middle of an ongoing story in the opening pages of a book is always an interesting tactic. Mia Kerick knows she has to bring you up to speed, and that you'll be playing a bit of catch up, but the way she does it, keeps you turning the pages at a lightning speed. If a writer commits to the journey and doesn't leave me hanging, then I'm with her all the way, and Kerick doesn't disappoint. She weaves her narrative together like the hands of fate stringing the threads of life through a loom. We don't know what Bryan did to Scott—for a reason. She wants us to find out when he does.

Collective memory loss is a common fictional device. Sometimes it's overused, but I think it works here. It's not simply inserted for plot purposes. There's a greater meaning behind why Bryan can't remember, you just have to wait for it. The explanation is as powerful as it is gut-wrenching, but to get to that point, we have to rebuild what happened to Scott along with Bryan, and it makes the emotional punch that much greater at the end.

Scott is delicate, blonde, blue-eyed. He's gay and everyone knows it. Bryan is insanely tall, the towering jock that nobody messes with. He's gay too—he just doesn't want anyone to find out about how he's been doing a lot more than kissing Scott behind closed doors. Sometimes gay romances are heavy on the self-hatred and the love scenes turn into crippled attempts at intimacy. Not so with THE RED SHEET. Kerick hits all the right notes. The love behind the gestures is what sold it for me. Bryan's not trying to use Scott's body to try to figure stuff out for himself. He genuinely cares about him. He wants to make him feel good and watch him experience the things he's doing to him. He's not self-absorbed, thinking about himself in these moments, he's thinking about Scott and that's what makes the whole sequence great. I bought their love story, even though I'm female, even though I'm straight, and to me that speaks to the talent of a great romance writer.

The shifts back and forth between the present and the past are easy to follow. I like how Kerick uses wads of rolled-up journal entries that Bryan finds in the wastepaper basket in his bedroom and how Scott lets him read the text exchanges they had. I like how literary means are employed to give Bryan a better picture of who he was and what his relationship with Scott meant to him. How sweet and cute they were together is juxtaposed with that arrogant side of Bryan when he was determined to keep things on the down low.

I judge a lot of books by how quickly I'm able to move through them. If the author hooks me. If the writing style flows, the syntax clear, the voice engaging. And I liked being inside Bryan's head because I tore through chapter after chapter, watching in amazement how my Kindle app said I was at the 30% then the 60% then the 90% mark. Young adult novels are at their best when they sweep you into the school year and I felt the weeks between Halloween and Valentine's Day fly by right along with Bryan and Scott. It shows that no matter how much things change, so much stays the same. Anyone who's been through high school experiences the same types of things. It's only in seeing them in a new way—like addressing male homosexuality in a modern day setting—that gives high school a fresh twist making it relevant for today's audience. Kerick's a young author to keep an eye on.


The Red Sheet can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Dreamspinner Press, All Romance Books

Prices/Formats: $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Pages: 190
Genre: Young Adult
Release: February 20, 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781627987219
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

My themes I always write about:
Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes- only love can save them

Links to connect with Mia:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway