Review: Drive By by Jim Carrington

 

Title: Drive By

Author: Jim Carrington

Published: Bloomsbury March 2012

Synopsis: ‘That was brilliant,’ Jake says. ‘That was without doubt the most satisfying moment of my entire life.’ When Johnny, Jake, Drac and Badger take the law into their own hands and give an irritating neighbour a drive-by soaking, life feels good. Then something terrible happens as a result and Johnny’s guilty conscience won’t leave him alone. But are the weird things that start happening really just a result of his overheated brain? Or is the old lady coming back to haunt him? Is it ever possible to get away with murder? It’s a good question. One that Johnny needs to think about. Hard

Status:

Read on April 16, 2012 -I own a copy – Courtesy Bloomsbury ANZ

My Thoughts:

This contemporary young adult novel by Jim Carrington is an intriguing read with an unique premise. Johnny and his mates, Jake, Drac and Badger, are teenagers enjoying the freedom of summer holidays in suburban London. When a kicked ball goes astray into an elderly couple’s yard the boys are indignant that they refuse to return it. A few days later the group exacts their revenge on the ‘Poisoned Dwarf’, drenching the woman from water guns shot through her open car window. The boys ride away laughing over the incident until Johnny discovers that the woman had a heart attack as a result of their prank. As strange things begin to happen in the dead of night, Johnny is overwhelmed by his feelings of guilt, and when the old woman dies he is haunted by the consequences of his actions. Even his new girlfriend, Summer, isn’t enough to distract Johnny from his tortured thoughts, is he responsible for the murder of an old woman?

In modern society, where careless actions are too easily mitigated by pleas of “I didn’t mean to do it”, Drive By explores the theme of personal responsibility, asking where fault lies when a seemingly harmless prank goes wrong. When Johnny and his mates take their revenge on an elderly woman for puncturing their soccer ball, and she dies, are the boys murderers? His mates seem largely unconcerned upon hearing the old woman they nicknamed the ‘Poisoned Dwarf’ had a heart attack but Johnny’s twinge of guilt grows exponentially when she dies shortly afterwards. It’s interesting to witness Johnny wrestle with his emotions, he is haunted by the consequences of the incident and his guilty conscience is reinforced by seemingly ghostly occurrences. You never quite know if the night time incidents are simply manifestations of his guilt or if he is being haunted by the old woman or taunted by some unknown person that knows about his role in the death. It’s difficult not to feel some pity for Johnny as he considers what may happen to him and how his family, mates and new girlfriend would feel if he confesses.
It is Johnny’s relationship with Summer that pushes him to make a decision, their fledgling relationship comes under threat when he becomes aware that by horrible coincidence, Summer’s grandmother was the ‘Poisoned Dwarf’. Summer brings her own issues to the story, her father died in a car accident before she was born and while she has been led to believe it was simply a tragic accident, her grandmothers death throws the story into doubt and Summer is determined to discover who was responsible for his death.

I enjoyed Carrington’s honest insight into such a complex question in Drive By and was satisfied with the conclusion. With a lesson to deliver in way that youth can relate to Drive By should probably be on every teenage boy’s (and girl’s) reading list, it might just be enough to make them think twice.

Available To Purchase

@Bloomsbury ANZ@BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia

@Bloomsbury UK @ Amazon UK

@ Amazon US I @ Book Depository

Young Adult

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