Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Off Track

By Michael J. Hultquist
$3.99 at www.smashwords.com

Off Track is a classic story of a guy getting out of the joint and trying to go straight in the face of circumstances and people who conspire against him.

In this case, though, the ex-con is only 16 years old. Gary Sanderson had been in an Illinois juvenile facility called Radcliffe for four years after having killed his father in a morally justifiable, if illegal, shooting.

Now he wants nothing more than to make a decent life with the nice young foster parents whose decision to take him in shaved two years off his sentence. Oh, and he also wants a relationship with the neighbor girl whose father has forbidden him from coming anywhere near her.

Gary’s legal status leaves him vulnerable to those who enjoy preying on the weak, from an over-familiar male guidance counselor, to schoolyard bullies and an arrogant, tone-deaf cop.

Inevitably, Gary must make a decision that – again, even if morally defensible – could land him back in juvenile detention or worse. Readers may think they understand the alternative ways the situation could be resolved, but author Michael J. Hultquist has thought of a few more.

Hultquist lets the book unfold in its own time. He said he was seeking “a slow boil that bubbled to the surface in one final crescendo.” And that’s pretty much what it does. It’s a good story for readers who don’t require instant gratification and can find satisfaction in considering Gary’s various ethical and practical dilemmas along the way.

Click here to link to Off Track.

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