Joe is seventeen years old when he receives the letter from his brother Ed. Ten years earlier Ed was convicted of murdering a police officer and was handed the death penalty. Living on death row in Texas, Ed has received his date. Joe has no other choice than to go and attempt to help him. Joe’s life has not been easy. Living with his Aunty and older sister, Joe leaves his promising athletics summer competition and part-time job to go to Ed. With barely enough money for travel and accommodation, he asks for work in the local diner on his arrival. He does not expect to find the support he receives from the locals, nor does he expect to feel for Nell, which adds another dimension to his circumstances. When Joe is faced with the reality that Ed might be innocent, he embarks in a race against time.
Sarah Crossan has used the form of verse effectively in creating a realistic world of heartbreak and hope. The characters are strong and very real and the circumstances in which they find themselves are also very real. It amazes me how an author can use so few words, in verse form, to create a world of which I have no experience, but can empathise fully with the characters and their predicaments. I was with Joe in this Texan town of despair and hopelessness. Highly recommended for all teen and adult readers.
I received an ARC of this book at the Reading Matters conference in Melbourne, 2017. Usually a slow reader, I read it on the plane back to Queensland. I was captured from the beginning and it has stayed with me ever since.
Read my review of We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan.