Summary (from Goodreads):
“In a single night—graduation night—Thomas has to decide: Do what everyone has always expected of him? Or forge an entirely new path? Bryan Bliss’s absorbing examination of one boy struggling with expectations and realities will appeal to readers of Sara Zarr and Chris Crutcher.
Thomas is supposed to leave for the army in the morning. His father was Army. His brother, Jake, is Army—is a hero, even, with the medals to prove it. Everyone expects Thomas to follow in that fine tradition. But Jake came back from overseas a completely different person, and that has shaken Thomas’s certainty about his own future. And so when his long-estranged friend Mallory suggests one last night of adventure, Thomas takes her up on the distraction. Over the course of this single night, Thomas will lose, find, resolve, doubt, drive, explore, and leap off a bridge. He’ll also face the truth of his brother’s post-traumatic stress disorder and of his own courage. In Bryan Bliss’s deft hands, graduation night becomes a night to find yourself, find each other, find a path, and know that you always have a place—and people—to come back to.”
This is a really good, really intense book about (a) the toll that war can take on soldiers, (b) graduation and the weird feeling that anything is possible at the same time that your future is pretty set and (c) fraught familial relationships.
After this one, I want to check it out. This book is under 300 pages and the author makes the most of them. The pacing is fast but it never feels rushed.
I haven’t read Bryan Bliss’ other novel but now I definitely want to.