Saturday, September 12, 2015

Come Sit By Me by Thomas Hoobler

The boy who shot seven people in the school library is dead. But did his secrets die with him?

Something terrible happened at Hamilton High last year, and those who survived don't want to relive the past. But Paul has just arrived, and gets the same locker that the shooter used. He wants to know what really happened...and you know what curiosity did to the cat.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I'm not entirely sure how to review Come Sit By Me. I read it from page one until the end in one sitting without a break, where I now find myself moments later trying to put my thoughts into words. Being speechless is not a common place a writer often finds themselves.

I'll start by saying that if this book had been written in anything other than 1st person, it would not have had its intended impact. The narration runs like a constant stream of thought, actions being told in a storytelling fashion versus being shown. If written any other way, it wouldn't have felt as authentic.

Paul moves to a small town in Pennsylvania (my home state) after devastation rocks the community in the form of a school shooting, taking eight souls: seven innocents and their suspected killer.

Paul begins his senior year, only to find out he was given Caleb's locker – the killer. Interested in journalism, Paul beings sticking his nose where it doesn't belong, connecting events from the 1920s through present time, trying to solve the one question everyone asks but can never answer.


Tenacious to a fault, to the point he loses focus on his own self-preservation, Paul finds out why. During the journey, he connects to Caleb in a way no one had while the boy was alive.

It was an interesting point of view, being able to be empathetic enough to understand what courses of action brought a boy to commit a string of heinous murders. I, the reader, understood how just a nudge in the wrong direction can derail your entire existence, until you do something you never thought possible.

The narrator takes us on the journey with him, not only seeking truths but showing us how Caleb spiraled down via his own actions, only he had the strengths and intelligence to walk a different path.

I found Come Sit By Me to be a highly intelligent read, with a great wealth of compassion, understanding, and realism.

A lot of healing could be achieved if we all took a step back and looked at every situation with the fresh eyes of someone who wasn't directly involved, leaving our own emotions out of the tragedy.

Right or wrong, there is always more than one side of a story to be told. Just because the point of view being voiced is on the side deemed wrong, doesn't mean the voice holds any less truth.

This thought provoking book left me in a state of speechlessness. Not something many books can do. The author took on a taboo but very real issue in writing about school shooting not from the survivor or even shooter’s POV but instead from a young student who has to know why. It's the reporter in him coming to life. The author presented with a complex and puzzling why. And even when I thought I knew the answer I was way wrong. The author twists the story and makes you want to know more about the shooter. I was engrossed in the story and found it hard to put down. I will be reading more of this author.

Paul arrives at Hamilton High for his senior year. There was a school shooting the year before and Paul is tasked with writing a story for the school newspaper for those who died. Well all those who died except for the shooter, Cale.

Paul soon sees the things people say about Cale and the shooting don't add up. The story follows Paul's final year of high school as he investigates Cale's life and tries to figure out what Cale's motive was for the shooting.

I loved the mystery and suspense that is created by this story about a very tragic event. But the highlight of the story for me is Paul himself. I loved seeing the world and the high school experience through Paul's eyes.

While the author treats the events and issues surrounding them seriously, Paul's humorous observations about those around him had me snorting and laughing out loud early in the book and this helped the story avoid becoming oppressive. Paul's character and high school issues like girls and bullying keep the story real.

I was sucked in right from the start and read it in less than a day. Come Sit By Me is an excellent read.

THOMAS WILLIAM HOOBLER was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he attended Catholic schools. He began working in his father’s print shop while still a boy and earned his first wages as a proofreader at the age of ten. He obtained a degree in English in 1964 from the University of Notre Dame, where he was editor of the student weekly magazine The Scholastic. After working on a local magazine and spending a year at the Writer’s Workshop of the University of Iowa, Tom returned to Cincinnati to teach school. He received a master’s degree in education from Xavier University in 1970 and the following year, feeling stifled by the provincial atmosphere of his native city, moved to New York. He met his future wife Dorothy on the first day he was there. He worked on trade magazines and for a textbook publisher in the early 1970s. Besides the books he has published with his wife, Tom also wrote two science-fiction novels with his friend Burt Wetanson. One of them, The Hunters, was optioned many times for motion-picture production and is now under contract to a producer who first read it as a teenager.

In 2001, Tom appeared on the network version of the TV show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and with help from his wife (who was his phone-a-friend) he won $500,000. The Hooblers used part of the money to spend a month traveling in Italy and decided to use the rest to try to write a book for adults. For years, agents and editors had told them that they should confine their efforts to books for young audiences, but publishers have steadily lowered their expectations for the intellectual abilities of American youth, frustrating authors like the Hooblers who write “challenging” material. Helped by their new agent, Al Zuckerman, Dorothy and Tom obtained contracts for not one, but two, adult books. The first of these, Captain John Smith: Jamestown and the Birth of the American Dream, was published by Wiley in the fall of 2005. The second, The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein, was published by Little, Brown in May, 2006.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Come Sit By Me by Thomas Hoobler to read and review.

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