Gifted artist? Standout student? All his teachers are sure certain that Evan Galloway can be the graduate who brings glory to small, ordinary St. Sebastian's School. As for Evan, however, he can't be bothered anymore. Since the shock of his young father's suicide last spring, Evan no longer cares about the future. In fact, he believes that he spent the first fifteen years of his life living a lie. Despite his mother's encouragement and the steadfast companionship of his best friend, Alexis, Evan is mired in rage and bitterness. Good memories seem ludicrous when the present holds no hope. Then Evan's grandmother hands him the key--literally, a key--to a locked trunk that his father hid when he was the same age as Evan is now. Digging into the trunk and the small-town secrets it uncovers, Evan can begin to face who his father really was, and why even the love of his son could not save him.
In a voice that resonates with the authenticity of grief, Steven Parlato tells a different kind of coming-of-age story, about a boy thrust into adulthood too soon, through the corridor of shame, disbelief, and finally...compassion.
Parlato constructs an introspective debut about the aftershocks of family trauma. Fifteen-year-old Evan Galloway, a talented artist and good student, is reeling from the suicide of his father on Easter. Evan is determined to begin "Dad-excavating" his father's past, since his repressed family won't help him find the reasons for his father's decision. Evan mines his father's paintings, tapes, journal entries, and poems, as well as contacting his father's former teachers and employers, patching together the life of a man he never really knew. Meanwhile, Evan's relationship with his best friend (who's recovering from sexual abuse) is morphing into an unrequited romance. Evan's journey locating the wounds in his father's past (in which Catholicism played a large part), unburdening himself of blame and the fear that he will follow in his father's footsteps, and salvaging his current relationships is complex and solidly woven. Though the dialogue occasionally lacks the shine of Parlato's prose, his ambitious, well-executed plot twists and nimbly handled cast make him a name to watch. Ages 14 up.