Book #79

Going to the Sun by Eddie Owens

Danny and Beth are high school sweethearts in small town Montana, looking forward to graduation before they join the army.
Then a tragic accident tears their lives apart.
We follow both of their stories: one to prison and one to war.
They are finally reunited in a desperate race to save the people they love.

I reviewed Owens’ Fat Jimmy and the Blind Ballerina last September. I absolutely loved this novel, and was pleased when Owens got in touch to ask me to review Going to the Sun.

This was a really interesting concept, and an entirely different approach than that taken with Fat Jimmy. Owens tells the story of two American high school sweethearts, whose lives diverge on separate paths, only to be brought together again after a tragic, devastating crime.

The only characters who were truly developed and well-rounded here were Beth and Danny themselves. Any smaller characters weren’t given the same depth or structure, yet watching Beth and Danny grow was great. Both emerged from their teenage years in ways I hadn’t expected, and the events which shaped them were clearly documented by Owens – except one.

Beth grew from a virginal schoolgirl into a woman who found fun and release in no strings attached sexual relationships. Although I don’t see a problem with this in any person, her many trysts peppered throughout the pages felt like pointless filler. Other than the interpretation of Beth becoming her sister (who is called slut an uncomfortable number of times in the first few chapters), I felt there was no reason for us to be shown this side of Beth; it had no bearing on the plot, on Beth’s character, or on any sort of overall development, and felt tacky to me.

The plot itself is complicated and gritty, as we follow Beth through life in the military, and Danny through life in prison. They both learn valuable, and similar lessons, and Owens is bold enough to make these lessons clear to us. It’s a long story, mainly focussing on the growth of our protagonists. Owens slowly filters information to us in the first three quarters of the novel, only to ramp up the pace in the end. There wasn’t enough time spent on a slow path to the ultimate climax, and it felt very much as though the finale was jammed in at the end to ensure some shock value.

Despite the above, I did enjoy working my way through this and learning alongside Beth and Danny. Their complicated relationship with each other, their growth, and both of ending up in dangerous environments, appealed to me, and kept the plot going nicely. A good novel for someone looking for a good military or prison read – or both.