Summer Reading – Week 3 – Mysterious Circumstances


        This novel is a great, timely account.  Tariq Johnson is murdered, shot down on the street, after he is stopped by someone who thinks he is a thief (although he is not), and someone driving by gets out of their car and shoots Tariq.  Tariq is 16 and black, and the shooter is an adult white male, Jack Franklin.  The fact that Tariq is dead is tragic, and clear – but almost nothing else is agreed on in the twisting narrative.

Told through various viewpoints, from Tariq’s best friend, to Jack Franklin, to witnesses, almost no one agrees with what they saw.  Whether Tariq had a gun or not becomes clear to the reader, but not to anyone else.  A wonderfully written reflection on an all – too – common occurrence, this novel would be great for a book club discussion, and as a text for multiple perspectives on the same event.


    A student mentioned this novel to me, and, as a fan of Gone Girl, I thought about trying it out.  Then, I saw it in three stores before finally buying it – both times before I ended up reading part of the book in the aisle. Libby Day, the protagonist, is the survivor of the massacre of her family, the only other survivor, was her brother Ben, and he is in jail for killing her family.  Libby feels that she is bad herself, and has a hard time dealing with adult life.  With her money running out, she agrees to investigate what really happened to her family that day in January when she was seven.

The novel does switch viewpoints between the past and present, and you get the stories of Ben, and well as Patty, the mother of the family.  There are occasionally other characters that get to narrate as well, but it was a triller that had a surprising ending.


     I picked this up on vacation, and it was different from any other ghost story collection I have read.  The first half was old newspaper articles from the history of Galena, which had references to ghost or other mysterious happenings.  The second half was a more traditional retelling of ghostly occurrences at various houses in the area.  It was compiled by the Galena/Jo Daviess Historical society, and I enjoyed especially the historical newspaper articles.


Author: JSBennivan

I am starting my third year as a school librarian, my seventeenth year in education. I finished my school library certification courses in August of 2016.

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