Sunday, February 3, 2013

Shades of Gray - Book Review

This is the type of story that I like, even if a person lives its entire life in a world of black and white, one small step towards light gray turns into a leap that ends up in dark gray. In his first novel Shades of Gray, Andy Holloman takes us into the lives of John, Wanda and Travis whose decisions take them little by little into situations where there is no way out.

The story begins in March 2002, when we are introduced to John and his 6 year-old daughter Lucy. The relationship between them is a loving one. As the two talk we learn that Lucy's mom is no longer in the picture and we are introduced to Wanda and her daughter Tonya.

Wanda is African-American and this fact leads to the topic of Uncle Travis, John's half-brother. Travis is a police officer with racist tendencies and a temper. John and Lucy spend a pleasant time at Chuck E Cheeses, when its time to go and they're on the road, something happens to the car and they crash.

The car crash scene is very hard to read, so real and haunting. Even writing about it is hard, you'll just have to read it.

All of the above happens in Chapter One! There are so many questions once the chapter ends. What happened to John and Lucy? What happened to the car? Was it accident or sabotage? Is there something going on between Wanda and John? I became engrossed in the story and devoured it in days!

The next chapter takes us back to 1975, where we have a sneak peak in the lives of young John, Wanda and Travis. Certain events in this period of their lives will forge the adults they will become. Then we fast-forward to July 2001 when the events that lead to the car crash began.

The characters are very believable, flawed and human. For example, Travis, he may be racist, a bad cop and temperamental, but he truly loves his family. Would he have turned out differently if his upbringing was different? In his current actions, we see his father's teachings. So maybe he really is not a bad person, only misguided? Or is that his true nature? Nothing is black or white, there are many Shades of Gray.

The scenes are very well researched and described. The plot mainly deals with drug trafficking, not only the illegal nature of it, but with the morals behind it. In a post 9-11 world, even drug traffickers and dealers need to be more creative if they are to keep in business.

The worst part once all is said and done is hindsight. What if they did this? What would have happened if they said that? What if...? What if...? But by then it's too late.

Magnificent first novel by Andy Holloman, I truly hope to see more from him!

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