“For a few seconds, a thought creeps in. He could pull his GPS and end it. He could hit that button, and they would come to find him within an hour. That’s the easy way out. While looking down, a tattoo slips out from under his sleeve. Not Done.”
A sometimes heart-breaking, hope-filled, stunningly brilliant novel of teen angst, coming-of-age, mental illness, loss, and survival, B.A. Bellec’s “Someone’s Story” is a Young Adult novel extremely well-deserving of the many accolades it has received. Among the awards and recognition for this novel, the author has accrued a Next Generation Indie Book Awards YA 17+ Finalist (May 2021), and the Reader Views Young Adult Book of the Year (March 2021).
Written with the spoken dialogues in screenplay style (an interesting choice), and first person perspective, the eponymous “Someone”, the book’s protagonist, is an average seventeen-year old, who undergoes some extraordinary circumstances. While Someone’s name is never revealed to the reader, his name isn’t what’s important: his story is what is.
Thrust into a new school after his father’s work transfers him to a new city, Someone endeavours to find his tribe – other misfits at school whom he can fit in with – pines over unrequited love, and struggles at times to understand and connect his austere but loving single father, who raises Someone alone after his mother abandons the family.
On the fringes of Someone’s main story lurks the parallel story of another unnamed and unidentified runner, who is in the midst of undergoing some sort of extreme marathon race. This person is obviously highly determined, and enduring a severe physical and mental challenge, that he is resolved to overcome.
Someone eventually finds his misfit tribe, and they are an eclectic collection of the popular and unpopular amongst the student-body. With his father, devoted friends, a kind, supportive, and empathetic adult counsellor named Kevin in his life, Someone seems poised to be able to capitalize on his natural physical and mental abilities, and make the most of his life, including his high school experience.
But insecurities, emotional and mental issues, illness, and the rough evolution from teenager to adulthood loom to throw Someone’s world into chaos, and put his very life in danger.
The fabulous characterization in the book left me unable to put the novel down for any length of time. I burned through this book. Someone, and his compatriots, Erica, Samantha, Geoffrey, Caleb, Ashley, are so incredibly well-drawn, full of the quirks, awkwardness, intelligence, humour, aspirations, complexities, immaturity, and perturbations of teenage life. Impeccably done!
I loved Someone as an unreliable narrator, and a complicated main character, who has his share of issues, but overall is a decent fellow. He’s far from perfect, and makes some highly questionable decisions, can be at times insensitive and somewhat petty. Yet ultimately the reader will root for Someone, as he struggles to fit in alongside his fellow “weirdos” with the greater student body, and even within his own small group of friends.
The themes explored in “Someone’s Story” are extremely compelling, thought-provoking, and occasionally difficult to read. Challenging topics such as drug use, attempted suicide, bullying, addiction, teen pregnancy and abortion, terminal illness, juxtaposed alongside more positive elements such as love, friendship, family, perseverance, motivation, created a dark mood to the story, and a very poignant, and captivating read.
There is a lovely, slice-of-life element to the book, replete with lots of pop culture references of the period. This includes the emergent, ubiquitous “cell-phone” culture of the day, which Someone embraces, while at the same time strives against, hoping to establish deeper personal bonds, through personal meetings with his friends over his favourite blonde coffee blend, rather than just texting them.
The writing is crisp, tight, outstanding. Bellec perfectly captures the perspective of a witty, capable, but troubled teen, who has enormous potential, and whose trials, tribulations, and triumphs made for a fascinating novel.
Five glowing stars for “Someone’s Story”! An amazing book by B.A. Bellec, a fantastic author!