“You have no idea what I’m feeling. No one does. but everyone tries to guess.”
Death should never meet the young. But it did. Thanks to my brother, death made fourteen new friends that day. Maybe even fifteen, if you count Charlie.
At sixteen, Sam Macmillan is supposed to be thinking about girls, homework and his upcoming application to music college, not picking up the pieces after the school shooting that his brother Charlie committed.
Yet as Sam desperately tries to hang on to the memories he has of his brother, the media storm surrounding their family threatens to destroy everything. And Sam has to question all he thought he knew about life, death, right and wrong.
Dear Charlie is a powerful contemporary novel that deals with the aftermath of school shooting that is told from a different but very important perspective.
Set in England in 1996, Sam is struggling with the death of his brother Charlie. Charlie who died in a shooting incident. When his family found out about the said incident, they thought Charlie is one of the shooter’s victim. Very quickly they realized that Charlie is in fact the one who do the shooting and had killed fourteen people before taking his own life. Sam lost his brother but people only see how his brother took lives. With Charlie dead, people blame Sam and his entire family. Media go frenzy with the news, even camping outside their house trying to get their side of the story but only depicting Charlie as the bad guy. Sam unfortunately suffers with this, he was bullied and unwanted, as if he will do what his brother did. Sam want to understand Charlie, he wants to know the reason why Charlie did it but Charlie is long way gone. Is Charlie the devil that other see him or he is just the quiet but happy and normal teenager that Sam always knew?
Reading Sam’s struggles is just heart breaking. Everything feels real to me. All his confusions, desperation, hatred, and guilt are easily believable and sometimes feels like my own. It broke my heart every time he feels lost, lonely, angry or defeated. Because he doesn’t deserve all those things. He is a good guy who unfortunately related to the guy who killed fourteen people and took a perfect escape. Sam is not his brother and he didn’t do a single thing to make that awful thing happen. He is completely innocent and yet he suffers like the other victims of the tragic event, and worst no one noticed his sufferings.
Like Sam, I wish to know why Charlie do it. And like Sam, it will remain a mystery to me and to readers what Charlie’s thoughts and feelings. No one will know his reasons or what triggered him to kill and end his own life. Because Dear Charlie isn’t about Charlie, instead it is about those people that Charlie left behind. People who unfortunately blamed by others because the one they should be blaming is already long gone.
Overall, Dear Charlie is an incredibly moving, heartfelt and thought-provoking novel. N.D. Gomez successfully shows how a family suffers, grieves and try to cope up after a traumatic event. Kudos to her for writing a sensitive and tragic topic in a perspective of someone who is directly affected but never truly considered.
* This review is based on advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, HQ, an imprint of Harper Collins UK.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
N.D. Gomes was born in Scotland and graduated from the University of Stirling with a BA in Media & Journalism Studies, and went on to receive her Master’s degree in Education in the US. She currently works in a public school system to increase educational opportunities for students with special needs. Previously, N.D. Gomes wrote for the London-based online student political magazine, deAlign and stage-managed student plays at the LeeStrasberg Theatre Institute in New York City where she attended for two years. She currently divides her time between the US and Scotland, but hopes to spend more time at her cottage in Hay-on-Wye in Wales. Dear Charlie is her debut novel.
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