Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Hardcover, 304 pages
Publication: April 18, 2017 by Little Brown BFYR
Source: I received a review copy from Saichek Publicity/Publisher in exchange for a honest review.
A chunk of old memory, adrift in a pool of blood.
Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one--not even Sebastian himself--can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father's gun.
Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend--Aneesa--to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past. It took a gun to get him into this.
Now he needs a gun to get out.
Contemporaries aren’t usually my thing, let along a novel about gun violence. Gun violence involving children. However, the synopsis had me intrigued and for years now, I’ve been hearing amazing things about Lyga and since I haven’t read any of his work; I thought his new novel would be the perfect introduction. And I am so glad that I read Bang, it was so much better than I expected.
Bang dealt with a lot of serious issues, from gun violence, suicide to prejudice. I was a bit surprised, it was a lot for one book. But Lyga handled it and incorporated them seamlessly into the story. All of these issues could be seen pretty much every day in the news, it’s sad how relevant Bang is. And Lyga isn’t afraid to tackle these topic, instead he masterfully shines a spotlight on them and pushes it to the forefront. We always hear about these type of stories, or at least what’s in the news. But we rarely see the aftermath. How it affects the family. What the person at the center of it all thought, is thinking and how it affected their life. The perception of it all from family members to strangers looking in. A lot of questions one may have are left unanswered. But now, Lyga give readers an in-depth, raw look at a theoretical family. And what we see is that beneath the headlines, there’s feelings of guilt, betrayal, pain, hate, grief, loss and the inability, struggle to move on. That you can never forget or erase it.
I thought Lyga did an excellent job at capturing the realness of it all. It was raw, in your face, truthful, and necessary. As I read Bang, my heart was breaking for Sebastian and the weighted guilt he’s been carrying since he was four. I wish I could reach out to him and tell him it wasn’t his fault, it was never his fault…he was only a toddler! On top of Sebastian’s heavy burden, he was unable to speak about it because it would cause mental and physical pain, and his mom kept changing the subject every time he tried. He was constantly judged and ridiculed by people and his peers…saying he was a sister/baby killer. All of this kept reinforcing Sebastian’s plan to kill himself, because he believed that he didn’t deserve any happiness, that he didn’t deserve to live. I’ve never cried so much. I felt so sad for Sebastian, no one should have to feel like this or go through it alone. Then there’s prejudice which is very much well and alive today. We see the issue of prejudice play out and directed at Sebastian new neighbor and friend Aneesa. Anessa is a smart, funny and sweet girl and she happens to be Muslim. Anessa automatically gets judged because of the color of her skin and for wearing a hijab. People made racist comments online and at school behind her back and yet she never let it bring her down. I loved Anessa and how unapologetic and true she was. She didn’t let anyone’s words make her feel less than herself and she certainly didn’t let them dictate how she lived her life. Anessa rocked!
Everyone should read Bang. The issues brought up are extremely important and perfectly portrayed. The writing was superb, bordering poetic and lyrical (there’s truly something special about Lyga’s writing, can’t put my finger on it though but regardless…I love it!). And lastly, the characters. Although this is a fairly short novel, I immediately connected with everyone; everyone was very well developed and realistic, like people I would know or would be friends with. I highly, highly recommend Bang, it’s definitely one of the must read books of 2017!