Johnny and his friends have finished school for the summer. One sweltering day, on their way back from a water fight at the park, they spot an old lady who has wound them up by bursting their football.
They make a bad decision. The boys pedal up to the old lady’s parked car and commit a drive-by soaking, before pedalling away as quickly as they can.
Revenge isn’t all that’s on Johnny’s mind, however, as he spots an impossibly cool, black-clad, pale-skinned girl on the bus. He can’t stop thinking about her, but has she even registered his existence?
When Johnny discovers that the old lady suffered a heart attack after the drive-by and subsequently died, he is totally guilt-stricken. And when Johnny wakes up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, feeling a presence in his room, he believes that he’s being haunted and the strain starts to show
…An incredibly dramatic, pacy novel about getting in over your head, guilt and facing up to your decisions.
Jim Carrington’s books have a good reputation, but Drive By was my first chance to check out his stories.
Drive By is about what happens to Johnny our narrator, when a seeming innocuous prank (even if it was in revenge) seeming goes horribly wrong. And when the resulting guilt starts to eat him up.
It’s the summer holidays, and it’s a scorcher! Jimmy and his friends spend most of their time in the park messing about playing football. When one day the game continues on the road home and their ball ends up in a garden, it’s returned by the sour old woman who lives there, deflated after having been “knifed”
A few days later, they come across the same woman sitting in her car waiting for her husband to come out of the shops. They decide to enact some revenge and drench her though the open window with the powerful water pistols they were carrying.
When Johnny learns the woman had a heart attack and later dies, his guilt starts to consume him, waking him at night, when he believes the woman is coming back to haunt him.
The only bright spot in his life Summer, the girl he first meets on the bus, and keeps bumping in to over the coming weeks, getting to know each other and develop a relationship.
What the reader knows and they don’t, is she is the woman’s grand-daughter, this obviously adds some tension to the plot as we wait for the penny to drop, but we also get to see the other side of the sour-faced old lady. Who’s a different person with her family, than the boisterous lads in the area.
Summer and Johnny are both fantastic characters (showing that a book can have ‘proper’ teenagers who act their ages as the main characters and have them still be interesting and likeable) and it’s a lot of fun watching them get to know each other (even though it’s tinged with what we know).
Johnny feels he is the only one among his friends that feels guilty about what happened, (it was only a prank after all, they didn’t intend to cause the heart attack, spraying a little water at her was no worse than her knifing their ball after all). This isolation and lack of someone to talk to, only makes him more conflicted.
What will Johnny do? Will he, like his friends have, shrug it off, or will he take responsibility for what he believes he has done. And what will happen if and when Summer and Jonny and find who each other are?
What would you do, you did something that seemingly had such tragic and unintended consequences? Drive By from Jim Carrington, is an enjoyable, thought-provoking, and engrossing read.
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Buy: ‘Drive By’ by Jim Carrington
My copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Published: 01 March 2012