Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon


A heart-wrenching yet ultimately uplifting story of psychological suspense in which a parent is forced to confront what he does—and does not—know about his teenage son, in the vein of Reconstructing Amelia, Defending Jacob, and We Need to Talk about Kevin.

While his successful wife goes off to her law office each day, Simon Connolly takes care of their kids, Jake and Laney. Now that they are in high school, the angst-ridden father should feel more relaxed, but he doesn't. He’s seen the statistics, read the headlines. And now, his darkest fear is coming true. There has been a shooting at school.

Simon races to the rendezvous point, where he’s forced to wait. Do they know who did it? How many victims were there? Why did this happen? One by one, parents are led out of the room to reunite with their children. Their numbers dwindle, until Simon is alone.

As his worst nightmare unfolds, and Jake is the only child missing, Simon begins to obsess over the past, searching for answers, for hope, for the memory of the boy he raised, for mistakes he must have made, for the reason everything came to this. Where is Jake? What happened in those final moments? Is it possible he doesn’t really know his son? Or he knows him better than he thought?

Brilliantly paced, Finding Jake explores these questions in a tense and emotionally wrenching narrative. Harrowing and heartbreaking, surprisingly healing and redemptive, Finding Jake is a story of faith and conviction, strength, courage, and love that will leave readers questioning their own lives, and those they think they know.

Publication Date: February 24, 2015

This was an interesting book and although I thought I’d be suckered in by the horror surrounding a school shooting, I actually found the other elements of the book more riveting than the central plot. I thought Finding Jake did a good job of examining traditional sex roles in society and what it means for families who don’t follow the “norm.”

Simon was a surprisingly relatable narrator. I find male characters hard to connect with sometimes, but that wasn’t the case here. I thought the author was incredibly insightful when it came to discussing parenting and specifically parenting children who are different from others. Simon wants to embrace his son’s differences, but also can’t seem to help pushing him to fit in with the “normal kids.”

I thought Simon’s plight as a stay at home dad was realistically portrayed. He wasn’t whiney about his life, but I did feel like his sensitivities were justified. Even today, there is a natural inclination for society to dictate who “brings home the bacon and who fries it up.” The best parts of the novel for me were his struggles to help him and his son fit in to a seemingly close-minded neighborhood.

The mystery element kept me engaged, but I didn’t feel the emotional resonance in these sections that I experienced in the flashback scenes. I felt like Simon wasn’t as powerful as a narrator and I found myself actually more curious over his wife’s reactions as the tragedy unfolded. Maybe the hyper-analysis worked better for the flashbacks than the present day scenes.

Overall, I liked Finding Jake and I definitely feel like it’s a strong debut. I look forward to future books from the author.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel for review! 


  1. Hmm, haven't read about a school shooting in a while but interesting that other elements were more riveting

  2. Wow. Sensitive subject for the author to take on. Awesome review. I'm gonna have to get a sample of this one. You're the reason behind half my purchases I have yet to read but dearly want to :P hehe WRITE ON!