Split Second by Cath Staincliffe
|Split Second by Cath Staincliffe|
|Genre: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jo Heffer|
|Summary: A split second is all it takes to make a decision that will have a devastating impact on many lives. That is what happens in Cath Staincliffe's novel, 'Split Second', when teenager Jason Barnes challenges three youths who are attacking another boy. The incident ends in tragedy; Jason is dead and the other boy, Luke, is in a coma. Jason's parents and Luke's mum are left to make sense of what has happened and also to seek justice.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 312||Date: July 2012|
On a late December evening, Emma Curtis is on a bus travelling home from work when she becomes aware of a young lad being picked on by three others. Too scared to intervene, she sits alone feeling guilty but taking everything in. To her shame, nineteen year old student, Jason Barnes, comes downstairs on the bus and immediately challenges the three youths. Luke, the young victim, leaps off the bus and a chase follows. Jason continues to try and defend Luke, and they end up in Jason's front garden where his parents witness the brutal attack. Eventually the trio run off leaving Luke unconscious on the snowy ground. Worse still, is the realisation that Jason has been stabbed and tragically it turns out to be fatal.
It's a shocking opening to what is an absorbing story about loss and retribution. The story takes turns to focus on events from the perspective of Emma (the bystander), Andrew (Jason's father) and Louise (Luke's mum). Through these characters we learn about the harrowing aftermath of what has happened, their feelings when the killers are still at large and eventually, the court case, where they have to relive the events of that terrible night in a public arena. It's a gripping story that really tugs at the emotions.
The book is really well written and I liked the way that it explored the different perspectives. By doing this, other story lines are also introduced and these are equally fascinating. Emma is a particularly poignant character as someone who never wanted to find herself in the position that she does but racked with guilt because she did nothing to help. She also has an extremely complex relationship with her father who seems to go out of his way to make her feel worthless. I also liked the contrast between Andrew, as the bewildered parent who has lost his son, and Louise, as the parent whose son didn't die. The reader is made to feel terribly for all these characters and all that they have to go through.
It is difficult to describe this book as enjoyable as it is quite traumatic and disturbing. As a parent, I found myself reading about the worst thing imaginable and because of that I found it quite upsetting. However, although I felt like that, I was also gripped by the story and couldn't bring myself to put the book down. Although there is violence at the start, it is not a violent book overall as it is more about the aftermath of a tragic incident rather than the event itself. It is incredibly moving to read about the characters affected and how they deal with their feelings.
Overall, this is an overwhelmingly powerful and thought provoking story and is well worth reading.
Why not also take a look at The Kindest Thing by Cath Staincliffe
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