“Finding Jake” and the Complexity of Raising Psychopathic Children
Bryan Reardon’s novel Finding Jake is a heartbreaking and utterly devastating look at what happens to a family whose child makes the awful decision to shoot their classmates. Narrated by Jake’s father Simon Connolly, the story flips back and forth from the time when the teenager is announced as a second shooter and his father’s memories of raising his son, wondering if there was anything that he could’ve done differently.
Simon’s emotionally charged narrative is a rollercoaster ride, as he ponders why Jake went missing and if his son really did help his friend Dylan shoot their classmates. From his insecurities about being a stay-at-home father to the sheer vulture-esque feeding frenzy of the media who are eager to thrust the Connollys into the spotlight and try to shame them for not raising Jake right, readers will at once feel sorry for the socially awkward Simon and snort in disgust at his attempts at self-martyrdom.
However, Simon is a wonderfully complex character, despite his moments of self-pity. His jealousy of his breadwinner wife, his own social awkwardness, and his parenting choices are all issues that parents of both genders struggle with, especially when they see that their teenagers are going through a rough patch.
Despite its obvious “ripped from the headlines” inspirations, Bryan Reardon’s debut novel is provocative, compelling, and heart breaking.