Book review: Finding Jake
“Finding Jake,” by Bryan Reardon, is one of those novels you’ll have a hard time putting down. It is very reminiscent of the 2012 novel “Defending Jacob,” by William Landay. If you enjoyed the novel by Landay, “Finding Jake” is an absolute must. Like “Defending Jacob,” “Finding Jake” tells the story of a son suspected of a terrible crime, told through the perspective of his father.
What made “Finding Jake” unique was the character development of the father and the Connelly family dynamic. When Simon Connolly and his wife make the decision to start a family, it is quickly determined that Simon will take the non-traditional route and stay home with the children. Clear tension within the family ensues. Rachel, a high-powered attorney, clearly feels a level of resentment regarding Simon’s ability to be so present in their children’s lives. Likewise, Simon creates more worry and stress than necessary trying to be the ever-present conductor in Jake and Laney’s upbringing. This tension is quickly compounded as they learn of Jake’s accused involvement in a shooting at the local high school. Both parents have clear and somewhat differing opinions on who is to blame and how to find their now missing son.
The character development of Jake Connelly comes to light as Reardon ping-pongs back in time through every-other-chapter, reliving moments in Jake’s upbringing while his father tries to make sense of a chaotic situation. Were there signs unseen? Did a missed playdate or a disinterest in the neighborhood kids have anything to do with who Jake is now, as a teenager and accused killer? “Finding Jake” is ultimately a story of how a family survives or falls when confronted with such devastation.
In the formerly mentioned novel by William Landay, “Defending Jacob,” readers hear a similar story of a family torn apart by the arrest of their son, Jacob, who is accused of murder. Both novels create a vision of what a family faces when their son is the prime suspect of a violent crime. Like “Finding Jake,” “Defending Jacob” is told from the father’s perspective, but in the latter novel, the father is the state’s prosecuting attorney. The added element of what this accusation may mean to the father’s career makes “Defending Jacob” a novel of its own.
Though the general tone and plot of these stories are very similar, there are enough differences to enjoy them both as individual pieces. Key among the differences in the two novels are their shocking endings. Both works unfold to a capstone moment, but in strikingly different ways. Each takes the reader though plot twists and moments of surprise that lead down a different path. It is easy for readers to enjoy both books through the differing perspectives. It is the combination of similarity and individuality that makes it easy to recommend both novels to readers as separate pieces or as a duel recommendation.
Emily Veenstra-Ott is tech services/collection management librarian at Bud Werner Memorial Library.
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