Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Wade Harrell is a mess. At 16, he knocked up his friend, Jessa, moved into his mom’s basement with Jessa to raise their baby, and still has to deal with the normal teenage angst inherent in that liminal space between child and adulthood and trying to figure himself out. As of late, Wade has only more questions because for the past two months, he’s been meeting up with his dentist, Dr. Emmett; at first it was to talk, and now not so much. Wade knows it’s wrong, knows he should be going straight home to his baby daughter, Lydie, but he needs what Dr. Emmett gives him—someone to talk to, someone who cares, someone who sees him and not a worthless disappointment. But for Wade, nothing good ever lasts, and when an act of angry desperation leads to blood, pain, and terror, the impact the event has will leave many lives changed in its wake.
Impacted is a coming-of-age story that highlights the fact that coming of age never really stops; no matter how old you get, you can still learn something about yourself—and it won’t necessarily be pretty. I feel like Impacted is best experienced without knowing much going in so the reader can ride the ripples and be surprised with who or what they hit next. The writing style is simple, precise, and fits the characters and theme well. Told in third person omniscient, the story begins with Wade on the day of impact and follows other characters caught in its wake, an interesting choice that allows the characters to convey how they see themselves and others, as well as the differences in how others perceive them. For most of the characters, even bit players, this works; however, there is one character where the shifting perspective doesn’t work well. Some of their moods/actions/motivations are wildly different from scene to scene and makes them feel inconsistent. However, there is enough substance to the character to keep them from slipping into caricature and remain compelling.
As a main character, Wade is remarkably unremarkable; a rudderless late teen who’s added the complication of unplanned parenthood to an already tumultuous period in his life.
“Wade [sees] himself as a mess of a human being, a pinball that hit every bumper, causing noise and disaster until it inevitably crashed.”
He’s content to go along and bow to a more assertive personality, only to be befuddled and angered by the consequences; yet when forced to make choices on his own, he tends to be rash, fitful, and dissatisfied with everything about himself. He wants definitive answers about who is he, how to adult, and how to be a good person; unfortunately, none of the adults is his life seem to have any answers, and the two people he used to talk to (his mom and Jessa) are the people he’s failed the most. He’s stuck in an endless loop of confusion, self-hatred, self-pity, and anger; he’s stuck in his mind as a failure who can’t do anything right so why try; and he’s simply stuck in the reality of being a kid without a clue dealing with adult responsibilities.
Wade’s his own worst enemy, and he perceives disappointment and dislike at every turn. He’s also achingly vulnerable…perfect prey for a practiced child sexual predator, an ephebophile who considers himself a do-gooder for preparing teenage boys for life and giving them experience. He shows interest, offers a sympathetic ear, and gives Wade a male in his life that he talks to like his dad. “Dr. Emmet [is] so persuasive in the beginning, when Wade was so confused.” Emmett’s sympathetic ear turns into a sympathy blow-job, and soon Wade is living for those stolen moments of freedom in his car, but freedom is rarely ever free and as Carr says, “Trauma echoes.” And the waves of the aftermath touch people in various ways. For Wade, it strips him of any place to hide from his choices and fractured life; for others, like his mom and even another teenage boy Wade doesn’t even know, it shifts the perspective of those it touches, even tangentially.
Impacted is an interesting look into the mundane, joyous, traumatic, and unexpected rollercoaster that is life. It shows one young man’s struggle with his identity, his morality, and being a frustrating mix of man and child. It conveys how simply and casually people love, harm, or are cruel to one another, and how each impact, no matter how large or small, can uncover parts of oneself, connections, or even the will to survive.
This review is part of our 2021 Reading Challenge Month for New-to-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of TEN great book bundles from almost 100 authors (you can see the details on the bundles, including the fabulous authors who donated books, in our Prize Preview post)! Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by NineStar Press: a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with 50 NineStar Press books! And don’t forget if you read along with your own challenge book this week, you can earn ten contest entries for writing a mini-review! You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on New-to-Me Author Week here.
This sounds like a very interesting story. I don’t usually like coming of age stories but this has me intrigued.
I usually don’t either, but this one has a unique voice. Plus, I’m a sucker for small Southern town niceties hiding all kinds of tomfoolery. =)
I was unfamiliar with the term ephebophilia, so you taught me something today, Jovan. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this book.
(I had to look it up!)
When I learned it, I was shocked that there are words for each development stage that we generally refer to as pedophilia so I’m happy I could give you a new fact (even a disturbing one).
I don’t know about this one for me. I have a feeling that I would be yelling at Wade constantly to stop being a selfish idiot and just talk to the right people. The continual wrong decisions would bother me. I prefer romance with a HEA.
I totally get that, Jennifer, and you would want to strangle Wade and a few other folks repeatedly! It’s a book about life being gray, so victims can be villians and vice versa. There is definitely no romance, and the love shown is in some of its unhealthier forms.
This book deals with some heavy and difficult subjects, the young MC has so much to deal with. I don’t usually read coming of age stories, but I really enjoyed reading your review.
Thanks, Sofia! If the book wasn’t so quickly paced and lacking in some dark humor to ease the tension, it would have been too heavy for me.
Wow interesting book. I had never heard the term ephebophile. Though not my kind of story,I liked the name. The play on words with the “Impacted” was very eye catching with the picture.
I was definitely drawn to read the blurb when I saw that cover and title, Shante’. I have to admit that what convinced me to try it after reading the blurb was the hope that the contents would be as clever as the cover implied.
While this doesn’t feel like my cup of tea at the moment,I’ll keep it in mind. Sounds intriguing. A striking cover!
I’m in a bit of a rut and this ones not hitting for me with the way wade sees himself. I’ll have to come back to it when my moods better. Thank you for the review
Thank you for the review, Jovan. I am really intrigued by this one now… You’ve hinted at many interesting things here!
Might not be for me, but it sounds well-done..,
No doubt this sounds like an interesting story, but not really in my wheelhouse. Hurt/comfort stories with low/mid-level angst are my jam, and this one seems pretty heavy.
I think the fact that it involves teeth and dentistry would make it difficult to read. I am facing a possible tooth extraction, so I will pass on this one.
This sounds like a very interesting book. Thanks or a great review and I will put it on my tbr list.
Oh my God, thank you so much for everything you’ve said.