Written by: Mick Cochrane
Published by: Random House
The young adult reader book selections are increasingly tackling issues that as adults we assume are already handled. That assumption can sometimes lead to outcomes that shock us and in turn have us reevaluating our thinking.
In Fitz we have the story of a boy who from a young age imagined a father that was secretly watching him, loving him but for his own selfish reasons doing it from a distance. Fitz’s fantasy was so strong that he would often wake up and go look out his bedroom window to be disappointed when he didn’t see a car with a man looking up at his room.
The story opens with Fitz standing in an alley in one of the fancier neighborhoods in his town. He had planned it very carefully after more than a month of following a man he had never met but knew was his father. The fact that it was less than five miles from where he lived with his mother only added another layer of anger and hurt to his already troubled mind.
Fitz is a typical 15-year-old boy. He comes with a messy room, an electric guitar, a notebook full of song lyrics and dreams of one day doing something great. But for now, this time and place, his only dream is to get answers. Unlike a typical 15-year old boy, he bought a Smith & Wesson .38 Special and he had it with him today. It was time to spend time with his father and if he didn’t make the first move after 15 years, Fitz was going to make it for him.
At the start of the story I felt Fitz’s pain and frustration. The author effectively developed the character with all I needed to actually hate the father. That is until Fitz actually takes action and abducts his father at gunpoint. Prior to this there is nothing in the book to tell me about this man that would play as important a part in the book as Fitz. Fitz takes his dad hostage and here Curtis Powel (his father) becomes a person not just dream from a young boys mind.
The story that unfolds gives the reader a glimpse into the repercussions of adult actions on a child. Cochrane does an excellent job of weaving the story of Curtis and Fitz’s mom. It’s from this story that we start to see how differences in class are so ingrained that they affect us even though we as adults know better. If I’m being vague here I’m sorry. Telling you more of this part of the story would be tantamount to spoiling what will be a journey of discovery for Fitz, Curtis and you the reader.
I will tell you that I was fully invested in the story. From the outright rebellious start, on Fitz’s part to his fathers’ confusion at first and later acceptance and realization of what his son was looking for. The book expertly crosses over from teen angst to adult remorse. It explores the child parent relationship and gives the reader with preconceived ideas a good slap in the face that is enlightening and welcome.
The ending of the book is not so much a shock as it is a revelation and the author does a good job of letting the reader reach conclusions along the way. It’s not perfect, there are some parts that lag but at the end these parts of the story fit into the overall journey. I’m not entirely convinced this should be a book for teens. I would recommend the parent read it first and when your child reads it you will be prepared for the discussion that will surely follow.