The Last Thing I Remember
By Andrew Klavan
This was a totally engrossing, action/suspense packed, honest and wholesome adventure. When my mom was telling me about it, I thought it sounded like a modern-day Christian take on Hardy Boys. After reading it, I'd say not quite. There's more meat to it. More suspense and tension, and a bit more violence, but also more inner-struggles and heroic choices that were soo refreshing to find in such a "cool" modern yarn! It also struck me as a great book for guys, though I enjoyed it very much as well.
Charlie West was just a normal kid. Good grades, decent at karate, with a slightly-distant dad, a over-anxious mom, and a silly older sister. He has his loyal friends, a teacher who likes to harass Charlie for his faith and patriotism, and a kindhearted girl who scares him more than anything. Life wasn't perfect, but neither was it impressive.
There was nothing in it, in fact, to explain how Charlie wakes up to find himself captured by Islamic terrorist planning his demise.
As he attempts to escape and find out what has happened since he went to sleep at the end of that normal day, Charlie begins a journey of discovering many things. Who he is. What's actually important in life. What it means to never give up when you know you're right. The joys of home and family and peace and justice, so little appreciated by most people until they're gone.
It was this last point that stuck out to me the most. So many teen adventure, and novels in general, encourage us to wish for escape, to be discontent with our humdrum lives. I know. I've felt it. It's a temptation to escape for a while, to live on the wild and dangerous side, to have the thrilling life of adventure we see in so many stories.
But I believe that the mark of a truely healthy, edifying, and great book is that it doesn't simply provide temporary escape from which we're reluctant to return. Instead, they send us back to real life with a new appreciation and greatfulness for what we've been given, for the people and blessings and trials of our own. Really good books encourage us to love the humdrum life in all it's everyday glory. Because it is glorious, if we will only see it as an invaluable gift, a precious blessing we must sometimes fight to preserve.
The sequel, The Long Way Home, was also good. I can't wait until the other two books in The Homelander Series come out!
(The only warning I would give to parents is a very mild and clean romance and more intensity and violence than Hardy Boys. Consider reading it yourself first. You just might have a hard time putting it down!)
Posted for the March of Books on YLCF