It’s not Oscar’s fault he’s misunderstood. Ever since his mother died, he’s been disrespected by his father and bullied by his self-absorbed older brother, so he withdraws from his fractured family, seeking refuge in his art.
Vance wishes his younger brother would just loosen up and be cool. It was hard enough to deal with their mother’s death without Oscar getting all emotional. At least when Vance pushes himself in lacrosse and parties, he feels alive.
But when their father’s alcoholism sends him into liver failure, the two brothers must come face-to-face with their demons–and each other–if they are going to survive a very uncertain future.
Oscar has his fathers looks but that’s about all they have in common. He is artistic, loves classical music and plays the violin. He takes after his mother in personality. He has nothing in common with his brother, who torments him, and feels that both his father and brother don’t know or like him.
Vance has his mothers looks and is jealous of his brother for looking like his father, who he idolises. Both he and his father love Reggae music, parties and having a good time. Both are selfish when it comes to thinking of others and Vance things his brother Oscar doesn’t like him much. He is always putting Oscar down for being a “sissy’ and acting like a girl. Vance is always angry but that anger hides something deeper.
As they both stand vigil at their father’s deathbed they both think about how the other brother has treated them wrong and how they are misunderstood. Both are scared and both are hurting. But when they are pushed into a future they never contemplated can they stand together or will it tear them apart.
The story goes back and forth between events from three years ago and the present. Each brother tells a bit of their own views on what was going on after the death of their mother and how they feel standing at their fathers deathbed. It’s a tale of two brothers who misunderstand each other and it seems impossible for them to find their way back to being what they were when they were younger. Both have issues, Vance hides his fear with anger, Oscar hides away and draws or listens to music. It’s a tough book in the way that it forces Vance and Oscar to not only look at themselves but also at the demons that drove their father to where he is now, to face the things that they fear the most.
Holding a vigil at a deathbed is incredibly hard and watching your loved one take their last breath is heartbreaking, but more so for two teenagers who have already lost their mother now wait to lose their father. It was an incredible book, well written in dealing with the emotions that are more heightened and the anger and fear of being completely helpless in this situation. It wasn’t a sappy book but one that dealt with the harshness of a family that wasn’t that strong after the death of their mother, a family that was struggling by for years with no emotional connection between the three remaining members. It was heartbreaking as it should be, a hard emotional read that brought me back to when I was with my family as a grandmother was in her final days. Some anger, some stories were told, memories relived and pain and sorrow as she took her final breath. This story deals with that reality.
ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Buy: Amazon UK