Sunday, October 22

Lights Out by Jason Starr

Review by Theodore Feit

 

A more unappealing and unsavory cast of characters probably hasn't appeared in recent literature.  First, there is Jake Thomas, superstar outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates,    with the morals of an alley cat and caring only about his own image.  Then, there is Ryan Rossetti, now a housepainter after his hoped-for big league career was cut short by injury and so-so talent.   Both were teammates on their Brooklyn high school team.  And Christina Mercado, engaged to Jake for six years, but in love with Ryan.  And then there are a couple of gangbangers who enter the picture.  

 

All these people come together in a complicated story which begins very slowly, with facts, background and circumstances adding up to an even more complex conclusion.  The plot begins with Jake coming home for a weekend to his parents' home in Brooklyn, three doors from the Rossettis.  Ryan and Christina have been having a torrid love affair, and agree she would break off her engagement to Jake at his homecoming party.  Jake learns of a possible statutory rape charge and realizes setting a wedding date would be good PR to offset that negative publicity.

 

From this initial situation flows a saga of wrong decisions, chance meetings and lost opportunities.  Tautly written, with all the nuances of desperate people and poverty-stricken Brooklyn neighborhoods, the novel is full of surprises, especially at the end when it leaves the reader to wonder what comes next.

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