Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: The Day I Killed James

The Day I Killed James by Catherine Ryan Hyde
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

It wasn't supposed to end up like this. But it did. When Theresa brings James to a party as her date, it’s just for the night . . . and he knows that. But when everything goes horribly wrong, James drives his motorcycle off a cliff—and Theresa knows she’s responsible for his death. Theresa tries to run away from the pain, becoming a new young woman with a whole new life. She meets people, of course, but she never really makes connections—she’s too scared she’ll hurt them, too. But what Theresa discovers is that you can try to run away from the pain—but you can never really run away from yourself. The only way out is through.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I’m split on how to rate this book.  I did not like the first part at all, but I loved the rest of the book.

The beginning was extremely confusing. There were normal chapters about the days before James died and there were journal entries, which said “Day I’m writing this” and “Day I’m writing about”, which were partly about the time before and partly about the time after James’ death. The order of these chapters and journal entries seemed random to me, and the narrative of the journal entries seemed forced as it was exactly the same style as in the normal chapters.

I would have liked it better if the author had either written in chronological order or had just started at the time directly after the accident and worked with regular flashbacks. Actually, I think she could have left out the time directly following James’ death completely, as that part didn't help the plot at all, in my opinion. There could have just been a first part dealing with the death and a second part dealing with Theresa’s life in her new town.

I guess the reader was supposed to sympathize with James, and later on I did, but in the beginning I just thought he was creepy – what’s a good-looking, 20-something-year-old guy doing obsessing over some high-school-girl? He was basically stalking her – he came over and just sat outside Theresa’s house, he washed her car without being asked to, and he painted her name on his motorcycle, and I didn't understand what he even saw in Theresa.

I didn’t understand Theresa’s emotions – she felt guilty, but it took her over 70 pages to finally, for the first time be sad that James was gone. I also thought the other characters, such as Theresa’s father, Frieda, and Randy were underdeveloped.

With that out of the way, I really did enjoy the rest of the book, even though the change in point-of-view from a first-person- to a third-person- back to a first-person-narrator was kind of strange. After I found out more about him and his past, I felt sorry for James, especially after the scenes at James’ mom’s house, which were really well done and made me cry. I felt Theresa’s guilt, which Catherine Ryan Hyde handled really well, showing how she tried to isolate herself and pushed others away of fear of hurting them, too. The book used showing instead of telling most of the time, too, which I enjoyed.

I loved the storyline with – well, I don’t even know what to call her; her name is Cathy but first tells Theresa her name’s Georgia, and is then usually referred to as “the kid” or “the juvenile delinquent”. Anyways, her story was terrible and heartbreaking, and I loved the relationship she had with Theresa and how they helped each other deal with their issues.

I’m still not sure whether I gave this book the right rating – I definitely had my problems with it, especially at the beginning, and even considered to stop reading it. I’m glad I didn’t, though, as the rest of the novel was a great, emotional read with a great moral. So, if you think you can get past the first part, give this book a try, as the rest is worth it.


  1. Found you through Saturday Situation. I haven't heard anything about this book before reading your review- the title caught my eye. I'll have to keep an eye out for this book!


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