Review: Where the Sun Shines Out by Kevin Catalano

Title:Where the Sun Shines Out by Kevin Catalano
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Genre: Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

A raw, unflinching literary debut for fans of Dennis Lehane and Tom Franklin examining the aftershocks of survival, and the price of salvation. 

In the blue-collar town of Chittenango, New York, two young boys are abducted from a local festival and taken to a cabin in the woods. One is kept; one is killed. When they are next seen, ten-year-old Dean has escaped by swimming across Oneida Lake holding his brother’s dead body.

As the years pass, the people of Chittenango struggle to cope with the collateral damage of this unspeakable act of violence, reverberations that disrupt the community and echo far beyond. With nothing holding it together, Dean’s family disintegrates under the twin weights of guilt and grief, and the unspoken acknowledgment that the wrong child survived. At the center of it all, Dean himself must find a place in a future that never should have been his.

In a sweeping narrative spanning decades and told from alternating points of view, Where the Sun Shines Out tells the story of a town and the inevitable trauma we inflict upon each other when we’re trying our best. Exploring the bonds, and breakdowns, of families, Kevin Catalano’s fearless debut reminds us that although the path to redemption is pockmarked, twisted, and often hidden from view, somehow the sun makes it through.

Review:

Where the Sun Shines Out by Kevin Catalano is a dark and gritty debut that is quite enthralling despite the utter heartbreak that follows the kidnapping of two young boys.

In 1992, ten year old Dean Fleming and his younger brother Jason are kidnapped while they are attending the town’s annual Oz Festival. Dean manages to survive the ordeal and in the years that follow, he remains wracked with guilt and caught in an increasingly downward spiral. Over the next 22 years, his life touches other residents of their small town and no one escapes unscathed.

Each of the chapters feature different characters and how their lives are affected in the aftermath of the tragedy. The first chapter is dedicated to the kidnapping and the traumatic outcome that virtually destroys the Fleming family. Dean is unable to tell authorities what they need to know to capture one of the kidnappers and in the years that follow, he bullies his only friend Brett Patrick.

The next chapters continually move forward in time and jump from character to character.and eventually circle back to Dean. Attempting to quash his pain, anger and confusion, he goes down a very dark path that leaves destruction and despair in his wake. Just as it appears that he has finally conquered his haunting past, Dean finally must face his demons but will this final showdown destroy him?

Where the Sun Shines Out is an emotionally compelling read that is impossible to put down. The characters are deeply flawed yet sympathetic. The storyline is full of angst with Dean and the residents whose lives intertwine with his with making choices that end with devastating consequences. Kevin Catalano brings this bleak novel of despair and dysfunction to a bit of a cliffhanger conclusion that will leave readers wondering what the future holds for Dean Fleming.

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