2013/09/23 by rmstrong1980
Perfect Forgiveness is the second in the Deep River High series by Shaina Cilimberg (the first being Crowded, reviewed below). The main characters in Crowded (Lydia, Emily, and Josh) are now secondary characters, but still present.
Without any unneeded introduction, the story thrusts us into the next year of Deep River High, with protagonist Kirk Williams being shoved into a bank of lockers. The bullying that was present in the first book is only amplified in the second. Because of the bullying he suffers—from classmates as well as the two boys who call themselves his best friends—Kirk goes along with his friends’ plan to “shoot down” the school to cleanse it of bullies.
On November 1, over 20 people lost their lives at Deep River High. Kirk is the only one of the three shooters left standing at the end of the rampage and is the only one left to face the consequences (the other two die by another shooter’s hands). The remaining 65% of the book is dealing with the aftermath of the shooting and how the kids (and youth pastor) at the Eastside Church of Christ and the school—and most especially Kirk himself—deals with the feelings of remorse, guilt, rage, confusion and the rest of the emotions that go along with such a traumatic experience.
The author, whom I know through Facebook, lost a friend due to bullycide (suicide caused by excessive bullying). The Anti-Bullying message is an extremely important one to this author—for good and noble reasons—and that is to be respected. She also does a good job of allowing her characters from the first book to grow along with their chronological age. The head-hopping, which some people dislike, is done well, and there are usually chapter breaks or other indications in the formatting that a new point of view is being used.
The book, however, is full of small errors, enough to lower its rating. There are missing (or extra) punctuation marks or poor grammar choices throughout the book—one every other screen or so on my Kindle. There are also formatting issues (some of which are the fault of the ebook conversion software, but some are not) which can make the text sometimes hard to understand or follow.
Most glaring, though, are the continuity issues. The shooting seems to last for at least an hour—with kids wandering the halls before school or practically stepping over dead and dying girls to get to the cafeteria to laugh and mingle with their friends, oblivious to what is going on. Kirk shoots nearly 20 people with a sawed-off shotgun, never having to reload. There is also never a clear indication of how many people are shot by which perpetrator. There is also very little indication of exactly how many people are wounded (only a list of the dead is given), and in some places, the number of people Kirk shot (killed or wounded) changes from one chapter to the next. Finally, there are still some liberties taken with the legal system, but far fewer than in previous editions.
The book could use a good, thorough going-over by a professional editor. As it stands, though, while the story is a good one and should be told, the book is poorly executed.