Seventeen-year-old Leo is sitting in an empty playground at night, listening to the sound of partying and pop music filtering in from the beach, when he sees another, more popular boy strangle himself with the ropes of the swings. Then, in a panic, Leo drags him to the beach and buries him.
This slim but memorable novel of teenage boredom and discontent is the ideal accompaniment to the hottest days of summer, whether you’re reading it while basking on a beach somewhere or comfortably relaxing in air conditioning ... Jestin (who himself is in his mid-20s) effectively captures that moment in a young person’s life when they might feel ready to separate from their family of origin but still have not found their identity or claimed their place in the adult world. Drifting from place to place, making missteps, expressing vulnerability, and finally achieving at least one of his goals (only to be supremely underwhelmed by the experience), Leo’s late-summer day --- dead body aside --- perfectly encapsulates what being a teenager feels like sometimes.
Jestin’s charged and chilling debut turns on a stifling vacation that descends from purgatory into a nightmarish inferno ... Though not the subtlest portrait of adolescence, Leonard’s curt voice is distinctly effective. Jestin’s memorable vision of a crushing landscape will linger with the reader.
Here’s a book that reminds us in no uncertain terms that film noir would not exist without the French ... The short novel unfolds like an adolescent version of Camus’ The Stranger, as Leo spends pages considering the senselessness of what happened and feeling the weight of life’s ennui. The author is 26 and not too far removed from his antihero’s demographic and concerns, the everyday life here interrupted by death and guilt. At its best the book cranks out short, terse sentences like machine gun fire ... At the least, it’s a calling card for what should be a bright career. The fates are up to no good in this ennui-filled story of passive crime and guilt.