Friday, June 3, 2022

Review: A Study in Terminal by Kara Linaburg

Today's read is the first of several more serious young adult novels I'll be exploring this month. This one grabbed me not by the cover (surprise!) but rather with the blurb.  It promises tons of heart and to dig deep into the human psyche. Add that it's under 200 pages, and I wanted to give this one a go. It will be appearing in a few days, so you don't have to wait long if you want to grab it up yourself.

Ready to see what I thought?

by Kara Linaburg
Monarch Educational Services, LLC
Young Adult Contemporary
180 pages

JUNE 7th!!!

Sean Brogan has spent most of his life running from a past he can never escape. Emotionally abandoned by his alcoholic father and secretly blaming himself for his mother’s death, the scars he carries are ones no one can see.

On the anniversary of the day that changed his life forever, Sean flees New York City on his 1965 Triumph Bonneville, hoping to face the demons that plague his nightmares. He plans to slip into the sleepy town of Lake Fort, West Virginia as quietly as he did ten years before, but his life has never gone as planned. Sean never expects to see Rina, the blue-haired sister of his childhood best friend who makes it her mission to rescue the lost things. A hopeful dreamer who sits on the roof and watches the sunset, she represents all the things that he has lost.

As Sean spends time in the lakeside town that has haunted his dreams since he was a little boy, he has no choice but to face the pain that he buried from a life cut off too soon. In the blink of an eye, with a gun to his head, Sean is forced to confront what it means to fight for the will to live when your world has gone dark.

An anthem for those of us who have been left behind, “A Study in Terminal” is a vulnerable story about the human condition that reminds us that to beat your past, you first must turn around and face it.



With a sense of honesty and sheer rawness, this read takes a teens' inability to cope with a terrible past.
It does include alcoholism, death of a loved one, suicidal hints, and nods toward rape, but none of it is graphic and the material is handled appropriately for the intended audience.

Sean has given up. After the tragic death of his mother and living at odds with an alcoholic father for the years following, he can't seem to overcome the nightmare and decides to end it all. Years of trying to escape didn't do anything, so he turns it around and heads back to the place it all happened. He's determined to stay anonymous, but from the very first moments, fate doesn't seem to play along with his plans and has him facing people of his past. This only makes the pain that much worse, and he can't wait for it to end.

I'll just start with saying that this is a well-written read. It's told from the main character's point of view and stays close to his thoughts and feelings. There are flashbacks, and these are marked at the beginning of the chapter to keep things from growing confusing. The entire thing stays concise and hits just short of two hundred pages, and, yet, the author still manages to cover quite a bit of ground. The tale digs deep, flows naturally, holds more than a few surprises, and brings the main character across as a sympathetic guy, who has really hit an awful spot in life.

While this one is dark and allows Sean's pain to come across clearly and understandably, it also offers hope...and not as a cliche or super sweet miracle. Sean's thoughts hit home and his 'loss of hope' pulls at the heart. It makes for a grabbing read on the character end, but there's even more than that, too.

Much of Sean's past comes in bits and pieces. The reader meets him as he starts his journey to the town he once lived in. His thoughts touch upon things that he's experienced without really exposing what these were. Those, then, come in bits and pieces through flashbacks as he experiences different things in the town. And these experiences hold more than a few unexpected twists. While confusing, at times, this also added the required mystery and tension to make this book hard to put down. Everything does fall together, bit by bit, to form a gripping and satisfying end. 

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