Today's review is on Black Chalk by Albert Alla
Black Chalk was a very difficult book to read. It wasn't because of poor editing or poor character development. It wasn't even because of a bad storyline. In fact, it's because the storyline was so strong and so amazing that made it difficult.
Instead of reading like a fictional book, Black Chalk reads more like a Memoir. The way Alla expresses the emotional trauma that his protagonist experiences is spot on. Like he was the one that went through it. Being a child therapist myself, I could hear, feel, and see what was happening, and what was to come. But even with all of that, I still wasn't prepared for the ending. Black Chalk is just that real.
Nate Dillingham walks into his high school physics class and a few minutes later he's the sole survivor of a school shooting. His friend Eric Knight chains the door, stands at the front of the classroom, and begins shooting. Everyone in the room, including Nate's best friend Jeffrey Baker, is killed. Even Eric Knight himself.
Recouping in the hospital from his own bullet wound, Nate is "protected" from the outside world by his mother. She keeps the media away, she keeps the TV off, and she keeps the detectives away for as long as she can. That's all fine with Nate. He's having a hard enough time reconciling the events of that terrible day to deal with.
Living with the guilt of being “the one that lived” becomes more than Nate can handle so he does what most people would do. On his 18th birthday he leaves home, running away from the problem entirely. But time away doesn't make what happened go away.
Eight years after heading out on his own Nate returns to Oxford and even finds love. But when he learns that the woman he loves is actually Jeffrey's little sister Leona, all that pain and suffering comes back full force.
What really happened on that day? Even Nate doesn't really know. He blocked it out all those years ago. It's only after he opens up to Leona that he begins to see the truth. But the truth may be just too much for her.
If you had only one book to read, make it Black Chalk. It's an amazing ride. With this being Alla's first novel, I'm certain he is on the road to great success.
5 of 5 stars
Available at Amazon
Book Description: via Amazon
In the Oxfordshire countryside, a student walks into a classroom and starts shooting. Nate Dillingham, friends with shooter and victims alike, is the sole survivor and only witness. Easily led and eager to please, his recollections weave around others' hopes until he loses track of what really happened that day. After eight evasive years on the road, he comes back to Oxford, meets Leona, and plunges into a world of candour and desire. But Nate's defences are deteriorating and Leona shares too much of his past... An unsettling tale of passion and guilt, Black Chalk is an edgy journey into twenty-first century morality.