Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Fifth Rule: An Unforgettable and Intense Read

It's been two years since the incident that changed Reef and Leeza's lives forever. Two years since that angry young man threw the rock off of a bridge, causing an accident that nearly resulted in a young woman's death. Two years since he met Frank Colville, his mentor, and since he started to believe that he could be more than the sum of his parts. Back in Halifax for his mentor's funeral, Reef is flooded with memories, and has no intention of staying in Halifax longer than necessary.

Leeza in the meantime has recovered physically from her accident, and is feeling stifled by her over-protective mother. Regretting her decision to stay at home for university, she finds solace in running, and tries to keep herself from thinking about Reef and what they shared.

Despite Reef's best intentions to stay away, when an eager political crusader wants to close his group home, he finds himself at the centre of controversy. Now Reef will be forced to face his demons once and for all or risk losing everything he's worked for- including the girl he loves.

I've long been a fan of Nova Scotia author Don Aker, and his latest book The Fifth Rule does not disappoint. It is gripping, emotionally complex, and it will stay with you long after you finish reading it. Picking up two years after the end of The First Stone, Aker completes the story of Reef and Leeza with absolute mastery.

There is a lot going on in this novel, and at its centre are themes of betrayal, loss and second chances. Reef made a lot of mistakes, and he's worked hard to prove that he's a different person than the one who threw that rock. It seems like he's succeeding.  Living in Calgary for the last year, Reef has spent everyday regretting his mistake, and working to prevent other kids from making a similar one. Unfortunately, second chances mean little to a politician angling for media coverage, and Reef finds himself doubting himself, and believing everything the media says about him. Maybe he is that bad. Maybe everybody was right about him. Maybe he should just do what everybody expects and let them be right about him. Through all of that, somewhere in the back of his head, he hears Frank's voice telling him that he's proud of him, but is it enough to break through?

Leeza is equally as complex.. Now 19, she knows betrayal well. Her father betrayed her and her sister by leaving them when she was just eight years old. Reef betrayed her by being the same person who caused her accident. She consistently betrays herself by pretending she's fine, and that in spite of everything, she doesn't miss Reef.  In her heart she knows that he's not the boy who threw that rock, but when his words are manipulated by the media, she questions whether she actually knows him at all. It also has begun to occur to her that her life has become about doing what people think she should do and not what she wants to do. For two years since the accident it's been easier to just go with the flow, but

From the first page, this novel grabbed me, and I just couldn't put it down until I finished it.  If you haven't read the first book don't worry. While there's definitely some back story to catch up on, the author recounts enough to catch you up, and it stands solidly on its own. If you have read the first book, you'll find this a satisfying conclusion to Reef and Leeza's story. Some swearing, as well as drinking and Marijuana use make this a more appropriate high school read, but once you read it, you'll be as engaged and invested in it as I was, and you'll be glad you gave it a chance.