“Only a man in a funny red sheet.
Looking for special things inside of me, inside of
me, inside of me.” – Five For Fighting (John Ondrasik)
Author: Mia Kerick
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Pages/Word Count: 190 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape.
Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it.
Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.
Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.
With a forward by Cody Kennedy
Review: It has taken me days to come up with the right words for this review. You’d have thought I would forget about it, but alas, the lyrics to Five For Fighting’s song “Superman” just wouldn’t let me. I have had a brain worm for days. My sanity is barely intact, so if I don’t write this review soon, I will have to do it from the psych ward. Mia Kerick’s work and I have had a tumultuous past. I like there to be justice done. Good to overcome evil. The perpetrator of abuse to be punished. This doesn’t always happen in real life, and it sometimes doesn’t happen in fiction. I try to stay away from YA books involving abuse because I have a hard time with injustice when it applies to crimes against teens. The Red Sheet didn’t appear to contain abuse of any kind, and it looked really original, so I jumped in.
You know how sometimes you read a book and you find yourself just smiling from ear to ear when you finish it? That is what The Red Sheet did for me. I actually curled my arms around my Kindle and hugged it to myself, trying to hold on to the euphoria I felt after reading the final words. Mia Kerick tells a unique and fascinating story. It is a new twist on an old trope. And a very emotional book.
At first I thought Bryan was just nuts. I couldn’t figure out why a seemingly normal (up until now, anyway) teenager suddenly feels the need to be a superhero. No, he doesn’t feel the need, he feels as though he IS a superhero. And he sets about his day in his new superhero ways. New and exciting behaviors emerge. So do new and alarming behaviors, just ask the LOL!
Bryan doesn’t understand why the people around him are weirded-out, confused, and in some cases, alarmed by his behavior. He doesn’t get it because he doesn’t remember what a shit he was last week. While he finds himself attracted to Scott, he has no memory of him from before. The last clear memory he has is of going to a party.
At school, as he discovers what people have to say about him and remembers bits and pieces, he is disgusted by his former self’s behavior. He wants nothing to do with his old “friends”. His memories are becoming clearer, but he can’t figure out why he acted the way he did. His prior extremes of behavior are moderated, and he develops what some might call a conscience!
Scott is one of the people who falls into the “alarmed” camp. He doesn’t trust Bryan and doesn’t understand his motivations or why he is suddenly being nice to Scott when he wasn’t before. My heart broke for Scott as his heart began to allow Bryan in even before it was really safe to trust him.
Just when I got my heart glued back together, Bryan remembered. He remembered what happened the weekend prior to his waking up wanting to wear a red sheet. He was devastated, and rightfully so. I ached with and for him. And for Scott.
Ms. Kerick used The Red Sheet as a tool to enable Bryan to forget his terrible actions. She allowed him to metaphorically hide his head under the sheet to avoid examining the pain he had caused and the pain he himself would ultimately feel as a result of remembering what he had done.
The Red Sheet is something I’ve not found very often. It is a story that I haven’t read. I couldn’t predict what was going to happen. I couldn’t figure out what had happened. But I couldn’t wait to find out. Mia Kerick unfolded Bryan and Scott’s story the same way one unfolds a new sheet fresh from the package. You open one fold at a time and use your hand to smooth out the line made from the sizing applied at the factory before it was packaged. In doing this, Mia re-emphasized the good and bad in all of us. She smoothed her hand over the belief that we have the power to overcome high hurdles, even if we are mere mortals. That smoothing reinforced the truth she was imparting.
We at The Novel Approach each pick our individual favorite book of the month from those we have read and reviewed. It’s called Booyah Books and Mary Calmes puts it on her blog. It is only the beginning of the month as I’m writing this review, but I have a feeling it will be hard to top The Red Sheet for me this month. Plus, it has my boyfriend MJ on the cover. That’s like a double layer of chocolate fudge frosting on a double chocolate fudge lava cake.
Read this book. It will make you believe in superheroes.