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Book Review: Odd Man Out by James Newman

“In the end we all bleed red.”

Summer, 1989, The Black Mountain Camp for boys should be a place to make friends, go splashing in the lake and sit around campfires and create those bonds and memories that could last a lifetime. Part of that is true, but the memories that revisit Dennis are not of the joyful and friendly times at the camp but something much darker. A boy there had a secret, one that turned his camp mates against him and ended in an atrocity.

This novella is one that demands to be read, no matter how painful the subject matter is. It tells the story of a boy that can’t reveal his true self to anyone and when it is discovered he pays the ultimate price. It shines a light on mob mentality and begs the question; would you do the right thing in such a situation, even if it put you in danger or put your reputation on the line? Dennis couldn’t and becomes haunted by it.

James Newman has tackled some deep issues in his writing, from homophobia and racism to the taunting and bullying many kids endure. His novel Animosity also dealt with mob mentality and the dangers of being the outsider in a group, how paranoid groups often point their fingers at those that don’t fit into their cookie cutter vision of how a person should live. His writing in the point of view of children and teens really hits home as he transports the reader back to, more often than not, some of the most confusing and painful years of our lives.

Odd Man Out is a punch to the guts that is masterfully written and conveys, to a brutal degree, that the stains of homophobia and bullying are still visible in the world we live in and the lessons learned in this story are very much relevant today in our tumultuous society. A message is within these pages, that we need to be better to each other because in the end we all bleed red.

                                                                                                            MICHELLE GARZA

Publisher: Bloodshot Books
eBook: (94pp)
Release Date:  21 November 2016

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