Sunday, July 29, 2012

REVIEW: Son of Rage and Love by Thomas Raymond

The Son of Rage and LoveTitle:  Son of Rage and Love
Author:  Thomas Raymond
Publisher:  Self-Published
Date Published:  May 21, 2012
Format:  Paperback
Source:  Provided by author for honest review
Buy It:  Amazon or B&N

12 Year-old Daniel used to run, jump, and climb on everything in sight. He played, laughed, made all kinds of noise, took things apart, and built new stuff from the pieces. Unfortunately for him, such acts of nonconformity can make inconvenient ripples on the smooth surface of wealthy suburban bliss. Years ago, Daniel was judged to have ADHD, and soon, "Pills fixed all that. They quiet most of my imagination, and the video swallows up whatever’s left."

Nowadays, Daniel just wants a little adventure, a bit of unscripted life to clear up the fog of his mundane existence. Every aspect of his life is under strict control of a narcissistic Grandmother, and the minions she hires to run the house. Disillusioned with the "remoras" who worship his mother's money and fame, and certain his older sister is becoming one of them, Daniel has all but given up hope. "I've learned not to fuss . . . A fuss is a big mistake. . . . At least I am smart enough to just take the pill and wait for the fog to roll in." But years of heavy medication coupled with long escapes into video games have turned his world to grey, blurring his perception of reality versus fantasy.

When Daniel's mother adopts a 13 year-old, free-spirited orphan, the two boys become immediate friends and allies. The absolute authority of Grandmother is finally challenged. The ensuing struggle at once gives Daniel hope, but also threatens his sanity.

The Son of Rage and Love is the intense, at times disturbing story of one boy's quest to reclaim his own mind. In a place and time where the appearance of the perfect life is more important than freedom itself, where strong will and disruptive ideas are quickly medicated into quiet indifference, Daniel and his new brother try against the odds to sever the puppet strings for good.


I wasn't really sure what to expect when I agreed to read and review Son of Rage and Love, but the concept was intriguing.  A story told from the point of view of a 12 year old boy, Daniel, who is the son of a famous singer named Maya.  He and his sister are being raised by their over-bearing, control freak grandmother.  She expects everything to be exactly as she wants it, especially the children.  Both Daniel and his sister have been diagnosed with ADHD and are medicated daily.  They get up and have breakfast at exactly 8:30 where they are given their pink pills and "wait for the fog to roll in."  Daniel hates pretty much everything about his life until his mother adopts a wild and spirited 13 year old Haitian orphan named Jean-Maurice.  The boys immediately become friends, and Daniel envies his new brother.  He remembers a time when he was that happy. 

I really enjoyed Son of Rage and Love.  I like the way Daniel describes things such as the fog that envelopes him after he's taken his medication.  He also talks about his grandmother as if she's a machine.  When she gets upset he sees her transforming.  He talks about his famous mother's entourage following her around like remoras would a shark.  Daniel has a very vivid imagination, but on the medication he can't seem to tell real from imaginary.  His outlook on things is refreshing even if it is disturbing at times.  I loved Jean-Maurice and his quirky personality.  His presence changes everyone in the family, especially Daniel.  He bonds with Daniel immediately and together the two take on the evil mechanical grandmother.  Daniel matures a lot over the course of the book.  In the beginning he just does exactly what is expected of him, but he eventually decides that he'd like to think for himself.  Sometimes when he would be lost in thought it felt like he was much older than his 12 years, but at other times he came across as being immature.  This was a unique addition to the YA genre, and not something I would typically choose, but I'm really glad Thomas Raymond asked me to review it. 

3 Stars * * *   
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