Youth and Other Fictions by Jonathan Cook
Jonathan Cook has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I've read two of his books in the span of a week and I connect with most of what he says on a very deep level. Past that, his writing is just incredibly funny and witty. That being said, if you're a small minded teenager or reader who just wants to read about a boy falling in love with a girl, these books aren't for you. They have deeper connections than that and are more than just words on a page. We will have MORE on Jonathan cook in the coming months. We will be reviewing his new book, Sinnerman and will also feature an interview with him, so make sure you check back for those goodies!
Jonathan wrote Youth and Other Fictions to help him deal with a post Columbine shooting world. Likewise, I think reading it in high school could have really helped me deal with going to school where one of the first major shooting events happened and seemed to set off a ripple effect of all the horrible events to follow. If you're not in your mid to late twenties or early thirties, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. That's okay, you should be glad. In a way, you younger guys almost expect to not be safe at school, which is sad. I don't know what's worse though, having that feeling just kinda be there always, or having the illusion that you are safe at school ripped out from underneath you. I think it's the last option, personally. I was in elementary school when Luke Woodham decided to kill his mom, his dog, and then come to school with the mindset that he was going to kill two distinct people and anyone else who got in his way, then move on to each school in the district until he was done. I can remember being put on lock down because he had escaped the school and was on his way to ours. It's a day, much like 9/11/01 I will never, ever forget for as long as I live.
Pearl, MS students remembering their lost classmates, 1997
People aren't sure WHY these things happen, and I think that's the beauty of this book. It doesn't try to explain why. It doesn't give you false reasons like "he was bullied" or "he had a bad home life." It just gives you a fictional sense of how these sorts of events change people. Jonathan's book centered around his emotions and his coping mechanism for Columbine, but I read it as if it were meant for me, for the city of Pearl, MS, and for any other victim of a school shooting out there. That's another joy of this book. Although it has dark themes, you can almost positively relate if you've grown up in my generation. It's most definitely for the mature reader, and it's most definitely going to stir emotion in you. But give me a good book that didn't stir an emotion inside of you, and I will stand corrected in my thought that it's not possible to be a great author and not be mundane.
Kudos Jonathan, you've done it again. Or, shall I say, you did it the first time with this one. I appreciate the thought invoking read.
You can buy Youth and Other Fictions at the following locations:
You can get in touch with Jonathan here:
This post dedicated to ALL those who have lost their lives in a terrible tragedy such as the one we went through in Pearl, MS; especially to Christina Menefee and Lydia Dew, who I did not know - but wish I did.
"The girl he had dated, 16-year-old Christina Menefee, was the first to fall, witnesses said, and then he started shooting "anybody he could find."
Also killed in the rampage was 17-year-old Lydia Kaye Drew. Mary Woodham, a 50-year-old divorced receptionist, had apparently been slashed to death with a kitchen knife, police said. Three students remained hospitalized Thursday.
Woodham was fleeing from the high school when an assistant principal rammed his car into Woodham's mother's vehicle to stop him." - CNN.com, October 2, 1997