Authors have been inquiring into what our reviews might look like. So to give you an idea, I thought I’d start with a young adult book that has stuck with me for over a year. A Wounded World by Crit Kincaid is a perfect example of an amazing self-published book. I do not know Mr. Kincaid personally apart from his Facebook page, which tells us he’s a water systems maintenance coordinator. That sounds about as exciting as my day job. When I purchased his ebook on a whim last year it took me by surprise. This man has a gift. Not just with words, but with evoking emotions. Making us care! He does it so well, he can introduce a character, and in the length of one page, yes ONE page, have you bawling your eyes out at their death.
Before I summarize the story I need to warn you about something. This is not a book to read while you’re waiting for your daughter to get out of dance lessons, or on your lunch break at work. Or even on a day where you intend to actually show your face in public. You will be crying. A LOT. I went through an entire box of tissues, then had to move onto the toilet paper. And after all was said and done, I had to patch up the raw skin beneath my nose with petroleum jelly and take two ibuprofen for my crying headache. Wow, I’m really selling this, aren’t I? I assure you though it’s all worth it. A satisfying ending that changes your outlook on life.
I would describe A Wounded World as a mash up of Bridge to Terabithia, The Shack, and Mean Girls. It’s a literary novel with commercial components, similar to The Fault in Our Stars. The seamless transition between gorgeous, literary prose and mean girl “teen speak,” is utterly ridiculous. How can one writer be so good at both and to combine them in one book? But Mr. Kincaid does just that, all while tugging our heart strings over and over again.
The story follows a boy “self-named” Normal after he’s the sole survivor of a tragic car accident that takes the lives of his parents and twin sister. At the young age of 9, he goes to live with his Granny, who later is found to have ALS (we’ve all seen the ice bucket challenges.) At 14, both he and his Granny move into a Hospice-style home where Normal meets a multitude of quirky characters. Surrounded by death, and not having accepted his own past, he faces his demons nightly in the form of nightmares. The only thing that gives Normal any kind of happiness is his art. But nothing truly gives him a reason to live.
Told in dual POV, the other character is Koren, a girl from Normal’s high school who is climbing the popularity ladder. She has it all, although death hasn’t left her family untouched either. Her mother dies of cancer when she’s 14. But unlike Normal, she chooses to remember her mother with a memory book. For her, it’s looking past her shallowness, and learning the true meaning of love she finds difficult.
Amongst the high school drama of bullying, isolation, pranks, and teen suicide, this unlikely couple is forced together by circumstance, and finds in each other what both were missing.
I found the dialogue believable, the imagery realistic, and the pace perfect. For me, this book is a new coming of age classic. It not only deals with deeper issues of grieving and death but other problems all teens face like bullying and teen suicide. Honestly, it’s a masterpiece in the making. I say “in the making” because the cover art could be improved upon and there were a couple of typos. But this is commonplace for self-published books so I can’t fault the author when the rest of the book is magnificent.
Mr. Kincaid’s tale, so wonderfully spun and packed with soulful characters, needs to be shared with the world, not just the twenty people who have given him 5 star reviews on Amazon. So please read the book, share it with others, and hopefully, we can get it out to as many people as possible. And as I said before, I have no idea who this Mr. Kincaid is, but he’s earned my respect, and as a fellow author, he deserves my support.
If you’d like to support him too, and read an amazing heartfelt story, you can order A Wounded World here.
-Reviewed by Julie LaVoie