“The Kilwade Tragedy” by Terry Keys, 2019, paperback

Blaze is a high school junior, who feels everyone is against him. His parents have divorced, he has only one close friend, and the football players pick on him every chance they get. No one understands him except Nikki, but he’s suspicious of her loyalty.

Mark and Blaze plan a weekend at the lake with their girlfriends, Nikki and Kaylea. As soon as the four left town, they started having a shot of tequila. Kaylea thought it would be fun to flash the old guy in the car next to them. She pulled her shirt up and pressed her boobs to the window of the nearby car.

The next fun task on the way to the lake was to light up their weed. When they stopped and other guys got friendly with the girls, Blaze became aggressive and ready to fight. With weed and liquor, Blaze was always ready to fight.

After such a wild weekend, it was difficult to wake up on Monday and go to school. He wanted to skip school, skip book club and skip his whole life. His mother had a difficult time even getting Blaze out of bed.

Before his father’s affair and divorce, Blaze and his dad had gone to the shooting range. His father had always taught him to be kind and to honor his commitments. It hurt Blaze that his dad could just walk out on him and his little brother.

There was so much hate in Blaze — his teachers, all sports and everyone in school. His main thought was “They will get it one day.” Everyone in class laughed at Blaze, especially the football players, since he was small and not athletic.

His mother finally insisted that they go to a counselor. Blaze went but thought he and the counselor could develop a relationship. Tre and his football dopes managed to turn every attempt Blaze made around, then make fun of him.

No one understood what he was going through. Everyone who has betrayed him needs to be taught a lesson, and Blaze intended to teach it. Eventually, a sick and hurting boy decided to play God. The signs were there, but everyone overlooked them.

Blaze’s message to his fellow students: “You’ve made me ashamed to be in my own skin.”

This is a difficult book to read but is essential reading for students and parents. The world depicted here is reality. Let’s find a way to make it a better place for our children.

JoAn Watson Martin is an educator.

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