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Finding Jake: A Novel

Finding Jake: A Novel

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Finding Jake: A Novel

avaliações:
4/5 (81 avaliações)
Comprimento:
303 página
4 horas
Lançado em:
Feb 24, 2015
ISBN:
9780062339539
Formato:
Livro

Descrição

“I devoured Finding Jake. The tension is almost unbearable in this thriller-cum-character study as layer after layer of a father’s soul are revealed as reflected in the character of his missing son. Utterly engrossing.”—Alice LaPlante, New York Times bestselling author of Circle of Wives and Turn of Mind

A heart-wrenching but redemptive story of psychological suspense told from the point of view of the father of a boy who is unaccounted for during a school shooting, in the vein of Reconstructing Amelia and Defending Jacob.

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.

Lançado em:
Feb 24, 2015
ISBN:
9780062339539
Formato:
Livro

Sobre o autor

Bryan Reardon is a freelance writer specializing in medical communications. He co-wrote Ready, Set, Play! with retired NFL player and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth, and Cruel Harvest with Fran Elizabeth Grubb. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Bryan worked for the state of Delaware for more than a decade, starting in the office of the governor. He lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania, with his wife, kids, and rescue dog, Simon.

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Finding Jake - Bryan Reardon

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PROLOGUE

My name is Simon Connolly. You may have heard of my son, Jake. Most people have, but they don’t know him. Not really.

As for me, they don’t know me, either. I’m not even sure why I’m still here. I can barely stand up, let alone venture beyond the front door. If I let such a simple effort beat me, I’m not sure what’s left.

As I step outside, the sun warms the too-tight skin of my face. Although the air is gentle, inviting, the season has not changed. It remains the bleakest winter imaginable and the toes of my New Balance push dried leaves across the pavement. Each sound stirring memories too fresh to accept.

So much has happened that I struggle to envision the next day, the next hour even. But going to the mailbox draws my focus to a pinpoint intensity and gives me purpose. Neither necessity nor curiosity provides the motivation. On the contrary, my driving force is a last desperate attempt to embrace banality. Get the mail, I tell myself, like before.

I never could have imagined that an oversize purple envelope, resting in that box, could contain such a bright glimmer of hope. I don’t even notice it until I am back inside; but, when I do see it, when my eyes focus and I read the name written on the front in young, bubbly script, my heart stutters. It is addressed to my son.

Maybe someone out there knows him better than I thought.

CHAPTER 1

JAKE: EIGHT MONTHS BEFORE HIS BIRTH

It all started with a fateful decision and the most wonderful news of my life, not necessarily in that order. On a gray day in late February, the kind of day that makes everyone wish Christmas lights still hung from their neighbors’ tree branches, my wife called me at my office.

I took it, she said.

I knew that by it she meant a pregnancy test. In the movies, the wife always calls saying I have to tell you something, brace yourself. In reality, my wife and I had been married for five years, and engaged for three before that. I’m not saying that I was so in tune with her womanly cycle that I knew she was late before she did. What I am saying is that there is much less surprise when it comes to married couples’ privates than the movies like to admit.

And, I said.

Don’t sound so excited. She laughed.

I cleared my throat and tried again in my effortless deadpan. I feel like my heart is going to jump out of my chest.

Cliché. She laughed even harder.

Only one person, my wife, knew I wanted to be a writer. An English minor in college, she felt compelled to critique me on occasion, but she was always unflaggingly supportive of this hidden dream of mine. She’d buy me How to writing books and fancy fountain-type pens for Valentine’s Day.

Caught again.

Look, not by phone. Let’s go get some lunch.

Sure. I really just wanted to know if I was going to be a dad, but the suggestion of lunch pretty much clued me in on what I expected to be good news. Where?

Fancy. How about Blue Coast? Noon?

I’ll meet you at the restaurant. Love you.

I love you, too, Simon. And I’m pregnant. She hung up.

I wanted to call her right back, to laugh and talk too loudly about the news, but I knew that wasn’t how this had to work. My wife had an agenda. Not in a bad way, just a very deliberate way. This monumental news must be celebrated with a lavish meal and discussed in hushed tones while surrounded by opulence. This was not meant in a showy manner, more like an artist applying color to a canvas. She was painting our memory and I was all for it.

Blue Coast was about as hip a restaurant as Wilmington, Delaware, could support. Although it would be lost in the midrange mediocrity of a city like New York or Chicago, it tried its hardest and rose above the mom-and-pop Italian places and the vanilla chain restaurants that most of Delaware favored. Instead, Blue Coast had that not-quite-Wilmington look with its minimalist architecture and deep, rich, but subtle colors. Soft but modern alternative music piped through the hidden speakers and men and women in business suits sat at two-tops, some leaning forward and whispering intimately about love or money, others leaning back and scoping out the room to see who was who and who wasn’t.

I met my wife there. She was already sitting at a table, her long, runner’s legs crossed and her dexterous fingers tapping along on her BlackBerry. I stopped at the host stand and just watched her for a second. Dressed in a form-fitting suit jacket she’d bought in NYC and had tailored by a woman who lived in a trailer with her three young kids, she fit right in at the restaurant. The crease above her right eyebrow hinted at some struggle at work.

She was a lawyer for one of the three nationally prominent law offices in the city. Due to the corporate tax laws of Delaware, its chancery court was one of the most powerful in the U.S. judiciary system; therefore, the big boys set up shop here. She did not practice corporate law. Instead, she was a civil defense expert and the office’s youngest local partner.

We met when she was still in law school. At that time, she was interning for the state’s prominent U.S. senator and I was working for the county executive. I was his go-to guy, at least in my head, and was very busy that day. The Democratic presidential candidate was coming in to stump for votes. Not for himself, but for the candidate for Delaware’s other U.S. Senate seat. The race was closer than anyone expected considering the Republican incumbent was well liked and hadn’t been caught with his pants down, neither literally nor figuratively.

I was helping find volunteers to work the event and her name came up. I had never met her but one of the other guys there said she was the best. At what, I didn’t ask. Had I known what she looked like, I might have, because when she showed up that day all bets were off. She walked into the office in these form-fitting black pants and a T-shirt that kept offering the most suggestive peeks at her perfect abdomen. Her blond hair, shoulder length and sleekly straight, was pushed behind one tiny, cute ear. If I had called it cute that day, she would have written me off as a frat boy idiot. What caught my eye, though, was a perfectly shiny silver ball pierced through the cartilage halfway up the side of her ear.

Who’s that? I had asked a buddy of mine.

"She’s that intern from the senator’s office. Goes to Villanova."

Wow.

She claims that she heard me say that. I think that little tidbit became legend as she told and retold our love story over the years. Either way, our eyes met, as cheesy as it sounds, hers icy blue and mine dark as midnight. I followed her around the entire day. It got so bad that the presidential staff blacklisted me from further events because I pretty much ignored my duties and just shadowed her. By the end of the day she was in my web, or maybe it was the other way around.

Standing at the entrance to Wilmington’s hippest lunch bistro, a tempest of contradictions swirled in my mind. There she sat, looking as amazingly beautiful as she did that first day we met. It was as if the cloying progress of time had no effect. At the same time, so much had changed. She, the fresh-faced new girl, the intern, was now a partner at a big-time law firm; me, the impressively young and successful leader of the day, was now the less impressively young and less successful bureaucrat who had stayed in the same position like my feet were encased in government-issued quick-dry cement.

Rachel looked up at that moment, seeing me and smiling. With a little wave, I walked across the restaurant. Along the way, I recognized people at a few of the tables.

Hey, Connolly, a guy in a suit said. His name was Bob Weston. Although he worked for a bank, I’d met with him and his boss a few times about county tax issues.

What’s up, buddy? I said, grabbing the hand he offered and patting him on the back while we shook. He craned his head. Most people have to, considering I’m six feet four inches tall. You playing ball tonight?

I’ll be there, I said.

Me, too. Whadaya think of that new pitcher the Phils signed?

I tried to give him a short answer, something about the fact that a single pitcher wasn’t going to help them return to the glory of 1993. I glanced over my shoulder while I spoke, but Rachel was flipping through her calendar. Still, I hated keeping her waiting, so I closed up the conversation faster than I would normally and moved on. I nodded to a few other acquaintances and smiled when Rachel looked up again.

Hey there, she said.

I’m not going to say she was glowing (cliché!), although some kind of warm energy seemed to radiate from Rachel’s eyes when she met mine. I could tell she had been thinking, a lot. Something about the curve of her eyebrow made me smile. I pulled her to her feet and gave her a squeeze. Normally, on a workday, that would be all the PDA we would dare, but not today. I kissed her full-on, not a peck. When I pulled back, her cheeks flushed.

Wow.

I love you, I said. You look so beautiful.

We sat down. I held on to her hand.

How are you feeling? I asked.

She grinned. Same.

Oh.

Rachel’s head cocked to one side as she assessed my reaction. I thought I might have messed up. Maybe my inflection hadn’t appropriately lifted or maybe my eyebrows betrayed me. Her grin became a smile, the one she gave me when I didn’t exactly know what I had done but I knew it was good.

What? I asked.

You just look happy.

And I was.

The first half hour of lunch consisted of banter over the best names for our child.

Ben? Rachel offered.

I shook my head. Every time I hear you call him, I’ll know you’re picturing Ben Affleck without his shirt on. How about Simon? Then we could call him Junior.

Cliché.

I laughed. Do you want to find out if it’s a boy or a girl?

I think so, she said. Why not? It would give us time to do things right.

You mean gender stereotyping?

Stop it. She smacked me on the forearm, lightly, lovingly, while she smiled.

As we spoke, I sensed something bigger behind her words. I’ve always been too observant of nuances. I knew it was best to ignore it, not to press her, but I’ve never been able to resist.

What are you thinking about?

What do you think about day care?

I blinked, two or three times, sensing a loaded question. I attempted to tread lightly. It’s great . . . for others?

Seriously.

Uh-oh. What do you think?

Come on, Simon. We talked about this.

We had, I guess, in passing, maybe over drinks when we were twenty-four. I wondered if it was a husband thing, trying in vain to remember conversations deemed time wasters to he but paramount to she.

Yeah, I mean, that’s kind of . . . I stopped myself, my senses tingling. I was about to say up to you at the end of that, but I had a sudden feeling that was not my best option. Instead, I finished with: . . . what I was thinking.

What were you thinking?

About day care. Then that little guy in my brain charged with digging up the hard-to-find stuff earned his room and board. Like your nephew and niece. I mean, those kids are awesome. I think we should just cheat off them.

My wife’s reaction calmed my nerves. I’d hit dead center in the sweet spot of marital communications, I could tell. I was so proud, until she continued.

And my brother . . .

Honestly, I didn’t hear anything she said after that. Rachel’s brother, soon-to-be Uncle Marky, was legend. A college football standout with shoulders wider than my, well, anything of mine, represented everything right about men of the new millennium. A successful midmanager in the corporate world with an MBA from Duke, he surprised everyone when he decided to stay home with his kids. His wife, a college associate professor, worked full-time. Mark went on to raise impeccably perfect little angels, a boy and a girl, while starting his own successful consulting firm.

He’s amazing, I said when I noticed the expectant silence. Really.

Financially, she said, which didn’t make sense to me, probably because I missed something. That’s what I’m saying. What do you think?

About what?

She frowned. About staying home with the kids.

Huh?

I’m not a dull person. By dull, I mean I am not slow witted. I knew where she was going. Nor was my obfuscation meant to be humorous or disrespectful. Nor was I utterly surprised. My response represented a deep-rooted defense mechanism. In other words, I was scared out of my Dockers.

CHAPTER 2

DAY ONE: FIVE MINUTES AFTER THE SHOOTING

Jake’s room is a mess. I asked him to clean it Sunday but he insisted it would have to wait. He ran off to a buddy’s house and did not return until after dinner. I forgot to nag him; ergo, his room is still a mess.

Without thinking about it, I start to clean. My schedule is light today. Checking my phone for messages, I halfheartedly pluck dirty clothes off the floor. No new messages means a fade-away jumper from the top of the key. Swish, Jake’s Lax shorts disappear inside the blue nylon hamper by the door. I lean down, grabbing hold of a textbook, and shake my head. Jake is always forgetting stuff, leaving homework or books at home, not taking his phone with him, leaving the cap off the toothpaste. All part of what makes him Jake.

Turning to place the book on his desk, I notice the cover: Psychology 101. Having been a psych major, nostalgia urges me, an otherwise nonsnoopy parent, to open the hardbound cover and leaf through the pages. I move toward the window for light and notice a torn-out spiral notebook page full of Jake’s handwritten notes folded up inside. I pull it out but do not unfold the sheet. I face the age-old parental dilemma—to look or not. Giving myself a second to consider, I look out the window.

Although we own two acres, our house sits fairly close to the street. Two large, dark-leafed maples engulf the front yard, obscuring the view for most of the year. Opening the shades, which Jake always closes, I glance outside, my fingertip toying with the frayed edge of the paper.

The day is warm for November, making it easy to forget that Thanksgiving is only two and a half weeks away. Half of the maples’ leaves have turned a steely brown and fallen. Half of that half I raked and dumped in the woods out back the week before last. A fresh layer of the dead foliage blankets the yard. I add that to my mental to-do list.

Maybe I should have noticed something amiss. I feel no ominous dread hanging over me or the house, or even Jake’s messy room. That’s what everyone always says, that they wake up the day of some tragedy and feel it coming. Not me. I am blindsided.

The first hint shows itself while I look out the window. The neighbor across the street and down two houses is the resident stay-at-home-mom-extraordinaire. I have referred to her as the mayor since Jake was about two years old, mostly because next to her, I felt like I raised my kids like we lived in a den in the woods somewhere. Standing at Jake’s window, I see her car careen down the long driveway. She takes the ninety-degree turn onto the street without slowing, her maroon van with its bike rack on the roof literally tipping up on two wheels. The tires scream and she is gone, jetting out of sight down the tree-lined way.

At that instant, my cell phone dings, announcing a text. I startle, half tossing the psychology text onto Jake’s desk and racing to our bedroom. I’m not sure why I react the way I do. I certainly have no idea what the message says, but something about the way the neighbor raced down the street fuels my pace as I rush out of the room.

My phone rests on the nightstand beside our bed. Putting the notebook page down, I scoop the phone up and read:

Shots have been fired at the high school. Calmly report to

St. Michael’s across Route 5.

I’m moving before I process what I read. The terse statement gives direction: report to St. Michael’s. In times of utter chaos, the human mind responds to orders. It provides an avenue for action while our thoughts flash like a lightning storm.

At a run, I swipe my keys off the counter in the kitchen and I am out the back door. Crossing through the tight space between the front of my Ford pickup and the wall of the garage, my shin slams into our old bike rack. I don’t feel it, nor does it slow me down. I am in the front seat, driving out of the neighborhood, careening through a stop sign, before I’ve processed anything but this direction.

It is not until I see other cars, driving as recklessly as my own, that I begin to understand. There has been a shooting at my kids’ school. My kids, Laney and Jake, are at the school. My kids are in danger. I am not afraid. I am not worried. I am protective, animalistic in my instincts. I will do anything to keep my children out of danger. I will die to protect them. This is not bravado. It is simple fact.

CHAPTER 3

JAKE: AGE SEVENTEEN MONTHS, FIVE DAYS

I was a male lion. Scratching at my neck, I expected to run my hands through a silken mane, long and luxurious. When I yawned, I imagined the world could see my impressive canines. I would roar, call out across the Serengeti, exclaim my dominance, but it might wake Jake up.

That was how I felt being a stay-at-home dad of a seventeen-month-old. From the day at Blue Coast when I agreed to shift my career and take care of a baby, my baby, that is, I lost myself. At first, I reveled in the idea of never having to wear a suit again. That joy, however, was surprisingly fleeting. I never realized how much I’d miss seeing the cast of characters that make up an office. I also did not realize how much I identified with my job, or how much my job identified me. I had started to pick up small writing assignments, but it was not the same. That may sound dramatic, but a stay-at-home dad can trend toward sounding that way.

At the same time, I had missed nothing of my son’s life. I sat on the floor with him when he first sat up. I remembered that day so well, watching his little muscles tense and that now-familiar expression of stubborn intent cross his perfect little face. Even better, that bright smile of accomplishment that radiated once he made it up. When Rachel came home, I never told her about it. Instead, when he sat up an hour later, she got so excited.

Simon, she had squealed. Jakey just sat up for the first time.

I entered the room and made a big show of it.

Oh my God, I had said. Are you sure? Did you help him? That’s amazing.

I did, technically speaking, lie to my wife, but it made her so happy thinking she’d been there for the big moment. Plus, it wasn’t like Jake was old enough to catch me yet.

Shaking the memory out of my head, I decided to check on Jake. He slept in his car seat in the living room. Shoeless, I padded across the kitchen and onto the hardwood of the foyer. A hand on the wall, I peeked around the corner. He was exactly where I’d left him, still snugly buckled in after our short drive. He fell asleep only in the car. At least that is what I had decided. So I drove him for about five minutes at nap time. Once asleep, I headed home, easing the seat out of its frame and gingerly carrying him inside. He had been asleep for about half an hour, although those minutes passed like seconds.

He stirred, his little hands jolting up like a maestro conducting an orchestra. That used to freak me out so I asked the doctor about it. He said it was some kind of startle reflex all kids have. That was good enough for me.

I stared for a moment longer. Although each minute Jake slept floated like a little island oasis, I lingered, smiling. He had his mom’s hair, straight, wispy, and streaked with subtle auburns and haystack yellows. Luckily, he had her eyes, too. When awake and open, they shined with such a unique blue that I found myself locked on to them at times, lost in their tiny perfection. His coloring, though, was all his dad’s. I liked to call it black Irish.

The moment passed and I backed out of the foyer. In the den, I left the television on but muted. Big Cat Diary was on. I’d seen the episode at least four times but I settled down, Indian style, on the earth-tone shag carpet and watched.

The sound of Jake waking up, a soft warble usually accompanied by the most adorable scrunched-up expression, lifted me off the carpet. I have no idea how long I sat there transfixed by the screen. If nap time translated

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  • (4/5)
    A sad and heart wrenching story. Every parent's nightmare. Very well written and enjoyable as an audiobook.
  • (4/5)
    Finding Jake by: Bryan ReardonReviewed by PnJbookreview 02/16/2016 Imagine, you are at work, home, in the grocery store, just going about your day. It’s been an especially pleasant and warm day in November, your day is like every other day. For 16 years you have stayed at home, raised your children in a loving and happy home. Everything is going just how you planned it and you are comfortable in your middle class life living in the suburbs and are proud of who you are, and where your life has gone. Neighbors wave at one another and kids build tree houses in the woods and play instead of being on the television all day. You feel your phone vibrate. You sigh and think I wonder who needs what now. You pull the phone from your pocket and feel the warmth of it in your hand, and then your blood runs cold when you read the words “THERE’S BEEN A SHOOTING AT THE SCHOOL. YOU NEED TO COME NOW!” Every parent’s nightmare.Told from the point of view of a father who received that text, and all the earthshaking aftermath that occurs afterwards. The torment of rushing to the school where everything is blocked off, and being escorted to church to sit, and wait. Wait for news, wait as you see the body bags coming out of the school. Waiting for an absolution that may never come. This is the ride you sign up for as you embark on the journey with Simon, Jake’s father, as he searches for any clue as to what could be happening, and most importantly as he searches for Jake. This brilliantly written suspense/ thriller novel brings about the question, how well do we really know anybody? The journey you join with Simon is a long an emotionally charged road. While you travel this road, think back, what was the last thing you said to your child? What were they wearing? This is the agony of the journey Simon is on, and we can only tag along and wait with him. Where is Jake?The author, Bryan Reardon, was a freelance writer for a bit, and co-wrote a few novels and then worked in the government. His degree in psychology made this novel an intense journey for those brave enough to read along. I read lots of genres of books and have written many reviews, but never has a book held me just as captive as Simon. The road is rough, there are lots of bumps along the way as he guides you through this terrible tragedy and is trying hard to get us all home. I most definitely would recommend this book to readers of all genres as well. In its own way this book was more intense than any thriller I’ve read, kept me hidden under the covers reading furiously with my heart beat slamming more so than the last horror novel I read. This also showed me kindness and redemption.Go on, go purchase Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon. You won’t regret it. Amazingly powerful book!~ J
  • (4/5)
    Advance warning: This is not a light read, but it is a good one. It centers around the titular Jake, who is missing after a school shooting. The police and neighbors seem to instantly think the worst of Jake, and thus are searching for him as a suspect, not a boy in need of help. But the narrator, Simon, Jake's father (a stay-at-home-dad), is determined to find Jake and help him, whatever he needs.The story goes back and forth in time, from before Jake was born, when Simon and his wife decided she would go back to work and he would stay at home to take care of their children, to right before the shooting, to after the tragic event. Through this device, Reardon really allows his readers to get to know Jake, Simon, and their family outside of the high-stakes of the present-day events.Reardon tackles some very heavy topics-violence, what causes it, modern-day witch hunts, innate personalities, parenting, gender roles, and moral codes-and handles them well. Finding Jake gets its point across without being heavy handed or preachy, and is a suspenseful, haunting read.
  • (5/5)
    Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon is a 2015 William Morrow publication. “Why are you sad?” “You need to be more outgoing.“You need to be more of team player.”“You should get out more.” Promoted as a book written in the vein of “We Need to Talk about Kevin” and “Defending Jacob”, I will lay you odds, that most people picked this book up because they believed the sole focus of the novel was about the gut-wrenching possibility by a couple that their child could be involved in a mass shooting. Yes, that is what this book is about, and it’s disturbing on so many levels, and is a scathing look at American society as we know it today. School shootings have become a paralyzing fear for parents in the times we live in. In such cases, we immediately cast stones at the shooter’s family, blaming them for not seeing it coming, for not doing something to prevent it. How could they not know?This is a theme that runs throughout this book, with people hurting on a level I can’t begin to absorb, trying to deal with the emotional trauma associated with the unthinkable loss of a child. To lose a child is almost more than one could bear, but to lose them in such a horrifying way, would rip you apart heart and soul, but what if your child was a suspect? Can you even begin to imagine such a scenario?The reader follows the first person narrative of Simon Connolly, a stay at home dad, as he faces, not only a parent’s worst nightmare, but one in which his beloved son, Jake, is possibly involved in a mass shooting at his school. As his shocked mind attempts to digest the situation, he and his wife, Rachel, and daughter, Laney, must deal with the utter agony of not knowing where their son is, if he is injured, running scared, or dead, not to mention trying to cope with the accusations thrown at him. As events unfold in the three- day period of time after the shooting, Simon begins to reflect back on his parenting skills, Jake’s quiet personality, parent-teacher conferences, the struggles of being a stay at home dad, before it was an accepted practice, and the divide his marriage was suffering from. He doubts every move he has made as a dad, what he should have done or shouldn’t have done. He is consumed by so much fear, and worry, he begins to lose faith, with so many seeds of doubt being planted about his son. Everything about Simon and Rachel was so spot on, they could have been any couple in America, but they were also a couple who went against the grain. They did not always conform to the parenting rules set by others in their neighborhood or by teachers at the school their children attended. Simon was a stay at home dad, Rachel the breadwinner, with a high stress occupation that demanded a lot of her time. The author did an incredible job of showing the judgment passed on Simon by other men, how hard he was on his own self, how he coped with watching his wife live a life so separate from his that resentment formed deep within his heart, and he was often unfair to her.I approved of the author’s depiction of ‘role reversal’, showing that raising decent human beings is hard work no matter who is home with the kids. While it is a luxury many would love to afford, it also has its challenges and is much harder than you know. But, since Simon was the most hands on parent, his self- recriminations show the difficulties of having a child that is not like all the other children in temperament, as he chides himself, second guesses everything as places entirely too much blame on himself. By contrast, Rachel deals with a different level of stress and is perhaps a little tougher, but would trade places with Simon in a heartbeat. They may not have been perfect, but they were a couple many will find themselves relating to. But, the underlying theme that many may not pick up on, at least not right way, is that being an introvert does not make one a criminal, insane, weird, untrustworthy, or stuck-up. Because Jake was quiet, didn’t engage with his classmates in the way our society expects, he was immediately a suspect. Because he tried to be nice to everyone, even those who were hard to like, even when they made him uncomfortable, he didn’t follow the crowd in making fun, or bullying, he was thus deemed guilty by association. “Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again.” ~Anais NinThis novel paints a fairly accurate view of American society. Follow along with the crowd, and you will not be suspected of a heinous crime. Join the playdate club, rub elbows with the right people, be outgoing, gregarious, loud, talk all the time, constantly surrounded by people, always attend social gatherings, look just like everyone else, talk like everyone else, do the same things everyone else does, because if you don’t, you may find yourself labeled as being weird or antisocial. “Growing up, it all seems so one-sidedOpinions all providedThe future pre-decidedDetached and subdividedIn the mass-production zoneNowhere is the dreamer Or the misfit so alone”Conform or be cast out….(SUBDIVISIONS BY RUSH)While the book is most assuredly a psychological thriller with the suspense becoming almost unbearable, so taut I could barely breath at times, it is also a cautionary tale, one that highlights our hypocrisy, that points a finger at society, and gives the introverted soul a slap on the back, and the permission to give society the cold shoulder without being punished for it. Simon and Rachel give us something to think hard about, because how often do we take life’s dull routines for granted, allow the small things to come between us, forget to count our blessings, or just live in the moment? Simon may beat himself up forevermore, always worry endlessly, but despite their foibles and flaws, this family has so very much to be proud of setting such an outstanding example for us all. It’s okay for you to view this book solely as a work of suspense, or as a thriller, because it is that, and if you understand why book’s conclusion is considered inspirational, then that is all I could hope for. But for some who are extreme introverts like me… This book touched me on many levels and while I am not usually a weeper, I cried the ugly cry, as I felt so connected to this struggling family, and saw a strength in them, they never knew they had, which gives me hope, though the lesson here is so very hard. But, I for one came away with a feeling of vindication so profound I can’t thank this author enough for not only having the courage to write about such a difficult topic, but to also take a stand and fight for all the Jake’s in this world, and hopefully, his message was heard loud and clear. “Everyone shines, given the right lighting.” ~Susan Cain
  • (4/5)
    Really, really good book. Very much enjoyed it. Kept me guessing the whole time!!
  • (5/5)
    Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon is a very highly recommended, compelling novel about a family tragedy.

    Suburban Delaware father, Simon Connelly, has been a stay-at-home dad for their children, Jake, 17, and Laney, 14, while his wife, Rachel, goes off to work at her corporate law office. When Simon receives the message: "Shots have been fired at the high school. Calmly report to St. Michael's across Route 5." Like almost any other parent in this situation, Simon knows: "It is not until I see other cars, driving as recklessly as my own, that I begin to understand. There has been a shooting at my kids' school. My kids, Laney and Jake, are at the school. My kids are in danger. I am not afraid. I am not worried. I am protective, animalistic in my instincts. I will do anything to keep my children out of danger. I will die to protect them. This is not bravado. It is simple fact." He takes off for the high school and joins the other frantic parents waiting to hear of their children are safe.

    When Rachel joins him and together they see that Laney is safe, Simon begins to understand that Jake is missing - and even though they can't find him, the police think he was helping the known shooter, Doug. Other parents begin to shy away from them and the accusations and recriminations quickly follow as news crews move in to cover the story. Simon reflects, "My thoughts trip and stumble. I am packing to leave my house, which is in the process of being searched because the police think my son shot thirteen kids today."

    Simon, who has always felt insecure and wondered what role his decision to be a stay-at-home dad along with his own social awkwardness may have affected his children, reflects on Jake's life and the choices he made when Jake was younger. Chapters alternated between the present day and the past. We follow the current heart-breaking events along with the reflections on the past.
    It becomes clear that both Simon and Rachel have had difficulties and struggles maintaining their marriage during this time they have held nontraditional parental/societal roles. But as we watch Jake grow up and how Simon handled parenting it also seems clear that no matter how much he questions himself and wonders if Jake could really be involved, that Simon is a good parent.

    Reardon does a great job building suspense. I appreciated the format, with alternating chapters between the present and the past. Any parent wonders and reflects about how decisions they have made when their children were young may have influenced how they when grown. A tragic event would make this self-introspection even more acute. The format also serves to heighten the suspense.

    Although comparisons are made between Finding Jake and We Need To Talk About Kevin, I found that the comparisons can only be made in the broad sense of the basic subject matter. Both novels are about a parent reflecting on their roles in their child's development, but not in the content of that introspection. To say much more would be a spoiler, but while vaguely similar, they are also very different novels.

    Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of HarperCollins for review purposes.
  • (4/5)
    I was intrigued from the beginning with the narrator being male, being told from a male's perspective being put in a typical stereotypical female's role. This in itself was a phenomenal way to draw a reader in immediately and keep interest going. Oh, but the plot thickens! Personal morality is questioned, parenting competency is challenged, and anxiety-driven doubt wavers amongst the father as his son's character is put into question in a serious way. Enjoyed the read!
  • (3/5)
    This book was good. It was about a school shooting and their son was missing. It was automatically assumed that he was part of the problem. The book jumped back and forth from when Jake was a child to the shooting and the aftermath. I don't know that i really liked the characters of the parents. I don't know how much I liked Jake. The writing was good. I wanted to know the ending. But I never really got attached to this one.
  • (5/5)
    This book was about a school shooting so it was a tough subject.When 13 kids are killed at a local high school the authorities find the suspect soon after but it's Jake - his accused accomplice - that can't be found. This story goes back and forth in time as you learn about Jake and his upbringing over the years allowing you to form your own opinion of Jake and whether or not he's guilty of this crime. When it all comes to a head it's a story about friendships, relationships, the choices we make everyday and of course, love.
  • (4/5)
    This book is about a school shooting and the family whose son may or may not have been involved. Jake, the son, is missing after the school shooting and is widely believed to have been the second shooter. Jake and his sister have been raised by their stay-at-home father which is a major theme of the story - one starts to feel that Jake may well be capable of shooting his fellow students due to the way in which his father has kept him isolated and has been indulgent of his violent tendencies. However, the story ends in a much more thoughtful way than you might have anticipated, and the ending is spun out thoroughly and not dealt with abruptly like in so many books. It is thought-provoking and moving.
  • (5/5)
    The audio read by George Newborn was totally absorbing. Yes, of course it had similarities to Defending Jacob but was also quite different. A story of a nightmare that keeps happening in real life.....a little different every time....too bad the story is just ONLY a novel and not real life, too.
  • (5/5)
    I could not put this book down. Utterly engrossing from page one. Simply fantastic. It's fast paced, suspenseful, heartbreaking, and full of raw emotion. There's been a shooting at the high school. Thirteen teenagers have been shot. Stay at home father, Simon, rushes to the school to find his two children Jake and Laney. Laney is safe, but Jake is nowhere to be found. And worse, the police think that he was one of the shooters. What comes next is a psychological page turner as Simon recounts moments from Jake's childhood and desperately tries to piece together what has really happened and where his son is. A fantastic read!
  • (5/5)
    I sat down and started this book one afternoon. I did not put it down until I finished it. This is the story of a school shooting told from the perspective of Simon, a stay-at-home dad who raised two kids, Jake and Laney, while his wife worked as an attorney. Simon questions everything he did as a parent, especially his advice to Jake to “be nice to everyone” since it included being friendly with the “weird kid” Doug. It is quickly established that Doug was at the center of the school shooting, but no one can find Jake to ascertain what his role was. Jake’s blood is found at the scene but little else is. This book flashes back to Jake’s childhood between the frantic searching for answers. The end is haunting. I could not put it down until I had the answers.
  • (4/5)
    A stay at home dad raises his son and daughter while his wife works as a high power attorney. There are ups an downs due to the situation and the father always feels that he is doing something wrong. When a friend of his sons goes to school and shots some students and then turns the gun on himself, Jake disappears. After his son is suspected of also being one of the shooters, the father goes through not believing, believing and blaming himself for whatever went wrong.
  • (4/5)
    Do not confuse this novel with the sublime "Defending Jacob" by William Landay. Both books involve violent male adolescents with similar names, and this one has an excellent premise: that having a stay-at-home father could create a worse outcome than the traditional childcare arrangement. The writing just seems mediocre and amateurish, and the editing ("Silvia Plath"?) the same. Plus at least one blatant plot hole (why not ask Jake's sibling first?). The best part is actually the dad Simon's own analysis of his extremely introvert tendencies and his fear when he acknowledges the same in his son. The passages where Simon is brought to his knees by the threat of a playdate with "other moms" and their kids is very well done. But the rest just isn't sharp or stylized. Wish I could have liked it more.
  • (4/5)
    3.5/5 We've all read the horrendous stories and watched the news footage - shootings at schools....Bryan Reardon's new novel, Finding Jake uses a school shooting as a starting point for his book.Simon is a stay at home dad to Laney and Jake, while his wife heads out to her job as a lawyer each day. One fateful day, there is a shooting at the children's high school. Simon rushes to the school and anxiously waits to be reunited with his kids. Laney is fine, but Simon is the last parent waiting - and Jake is the only child missing. The suspected shooter was a loner, with Jake being his only friend.Simon has had many doubts about his parenting skills over the years. He found it hard to mix in with the stay at home moms in the neighbourhood. He projected many of his own fears and insecurities on his children. Laney seemed to be unaffected, but Jake is a quiet child, preferring his own company.As he waits for new, Simon relives Jake's life - from a baby to the young man he is today. And Simon's doubts, questions, self-recriminations, fears and anxieties about himself, his role as a parent, his childrearing abilities and his son are laid bare on the page. How well does he know his child? Where is Jake? His body was not inside the school - where could he be? Is he alive? Could he possibly be involved? What more could he have to protect his child? What did he do wrong?Everything we learn is from Simon's point of view. It is as much a search for who is son his as it is a self exploration of himself as a father, husband and person. Despite his self realization, I found it hard to like Simon. As Simon's memories progress through the years, the picture we have of Jake changes. The ending was not at all predictable, though unsettling.I found the back and forth between the past and present quite addictive. Reardon's prose have such a ring of authenticity to them - he eloquently articulates the fears we all harbour as parents. Reardon himself left an office job to stay home with his twin newborns.
  • (5/5)
    Simon Connolly receives the text message “Shots have been fired at the high school. Calmly report to St. Michael’s across route 5.” Life for the Connolly family will never be the same. Stay-at-home dad Simon Connolly was always a little concerned about his son Jake and his quiet ways. Compared to his younger sister, Laney, who made friends easily, Jake was content to be by himself. One of the few friends Jake did have was Douglas Martin-Klein, a social misfit that Simon and his wife Rachel did not particularly like Jake spending time with. When news of the shooting spreads and parents rush to the scene, rumors immediately start circulating. Thirteen children shot. Two shooters, one of them dead by his own hand, the other missing. As parents nervously wait in the church across the street for news of their children, survivors and their parents are reunited, one group at a time, and escorted out the back door. Soon there are only 14 sets of parents left, Simon and Rachel among them. So begins their nightmare. Douglas Martin-Klein is identified as the shooter lying dead in the school. Jake is rumored to be his accomplice on the run. Simon and Rachel are frantic to find Jake, convinced that he was not involved. While news reports splash pictures of Jake and Doug all over the news, angry parents swarm the Connolly home calling them murderers for raising a son who is a monster. Soon doubt starts to creep into Simon’s mind. Were there signs that he missed? Did he really know Jake at all? Suspenseful and heartbreaking at the same time, Finding Jake will grab hold of you and not let go.
  • (4/5)
    This book made me experience the following emotions: Sadness, anger, fear, and closer. The reason I felt all of these things is because I was closely connected to the Connolly family. The author really has a skilled talent for storytelling. Especially from a human aspect nature level. Right from the moment I started reading to the last page I was hooked. Thus this made for a quick, easy read. I especially liked the way that the story went back in time at different periods in Jake's life. It gave me a better insight to just what type of person Jake is. Then there is the Connelly family. I like that they really bonded together and fought for Jake's honor even when the odds seemed against them. The subject matter of this book could have made this story depressing and dark but it was not. It was very well-written. I am looking forward to reading the next book by this author. In Finding Jake, I found me a new author.
  • (4/5)
    A different take on a book about a horrific school shooting. The shooter, a teenager named Doug, is dead as are many others. It is believed his only friend Jake was a second shooter, but the whereabouts of this boy is unknown.Simon Connelly is a stay at home dad to his son Jake and his daughter Lanie. His daughter his safe but is his son, the son he raised, thought he knew, really a killer? The book goes back to the past in alternating chapter and follows his memories of raising his son in chronological age, a period when Simon himself doubted and worried a out the raising of his son. A very introspective look at the responsibility, the doubts, the sorrow and disbelief the parents of those accused, feel. Trial by media, neighbors comments, nasty text messages and e-mails, the stress on the family members and the family unit as a whole. He did not raise a killer, not his Jake, did he? But if not where is he?Suspenseful and heartbreaking, a very good and different story that is very timely in our culture today.ARC from publisher.
  • (4/5)
    FINDING JAKE by Bryan Reardon is a complex heartfelt parent’s tragedy; a psychological intense suspense, keeping you page-turning to learn the fate of a teenage son.Simon Connelly is a freelance writer, and a devoted upper middle class suburban stay at home dad to his son, Jake and his daughter Laney, while his wife, Rachel is busy with her legal career. Presently, the kids are teens, Laney is more outgoing and Jake more introverted. They have weathered the storms of typical teenagers, until one day a text comes – A school shooting, which changes this family’s entire world.A high school shooting, leaving thirteen people dead, and a gunman, Doug taking his own life, and a second student, Jake who happened to be friends with the gunman. Jake has disappeared so the question is where is, Jake; did he have anything to do with the shooting? Flashing back and forth from the present, the six days aftermath of the shooting, and the past bringing insights into the raw emotions and intimate feelings of this frantic family. Do we really know our children and their friends and can a parent control their every move?Typical after a school shooting or tragedy, the media and community begins pointing blame, the victims – they must find Jake. A nightmare, and a parent second guessing his abilities as a parent. What really happened the day of the shooting and what led up to this event? Told from an insecure and second guessing father Simon, he continues to agonize and search for answers; he fears for his son and his choice of friends. His wife is more of a colder personality and somewhat removed and not a likable character. The daughter on the other hand was a softer personality, and Jake more removed and introverted. FINDING JAKE a short, thought-provoking and absorbing book about parenting and a nice book club choice to explore different perspectives. An intense and suspenseful read; an up close and personal look into the world of parenting—of love, fear, pain, courage, and healing. Of course, and the most pressing issues facing parents today. For me the best part was in the storytelling about the child rearing and the earlier days, a time when there is innocence before our children are subjected to the peer pressure and evils of this world. Look forward to reading more from this newfound author.
  • (5/5)
    I have to give this 5 stars. It was an excellent portrayal of what a family goes thru after the unthinkable happens. Simon Connolly is a stay at home dad. He has been the primary caregiver to his son Jake and daughter Laney. Rachel, his wife, a corporate attorney has been the main breadwinner. Simon Connolly is no different from any parent. He worries about his kids, 2nd guesses his decisions, relives his responses to his children's actions - always critiquing how he is reactions, responses and comments are shaping his children's future as well as confirming to himself that his kids are normal. Jake is like him when he was a kid, and still as an adult, he doesn't like crowds... he wasn't into neighborhood playdates. Then the unthinkable happens, a shooting at his kid's high school. He rushing to the scene like all the other parents, waiting at St. Michael's for the police to answer their questions and to reunite with their children. Hundreds of parents dwindles to 10's then to only a few remain. Simon is finally faced with the reality that his life will never be the same. This is a very emotional heart wrenching book. It makes you take pause to how you may react under such circumstances and how the media frenzy alone can enrage a community, a nation and trigger copycats - Simon & Rachel Connolly can be me, you or your neighbor - we wouldn't want to wish this nightmare on our worst of enemies. Well Told!
  • (5/5)
    Devastating, compelling and intense. This is a read that it still working it's way around in my mind. It is one of those books that are hard to stop thinking about. Such a well written, honest and engrossing novel. It will have you reading past your bedtime and will be one you want to discuss with others. 4.5 stars
  • (5/5)
    I definitely recommend this book! I throughly enjoyed his writing and the story is compelling.
  • (4/5)
    Was a good book, let you get involved with all of the characters.
  • (5/5)
    This is a great book. I couldn't put it down.