Can a person make a bad mistake that hurts others irrevocably all in one irrational moment and go on to live as he would have if he hadn’t made that mistake? Can he if that mistake kills someone? Can he if he is only ten years old and he still has a childhood to navigate? Not very easily, and author Gail Giles, a grandmother, deftly explores that journey in this story told from the point of view of the ten-year-old boy, following him up through high school. Ms. Giles forces self reflection on her adolescent readers: if there can be no forgiveness, if there can be no forgetting, what are the qualities a person must have in order to live as a whole human being?
I read this book because a few of the boys in my seventh grade class asked me to. These boys could not get into the Twilight series that so many girls in the class had found romantic and thought Right Behind You did address their ideas of romance (they didn’t put it quite this way). The romance in Right Behind You is more about whether a girl can love a boy even though he is deeply flawed; whereas the romance in Twilight is more about a girl feeling very, very special to a boy. Who says being a reading teacher isn’t interesting…
Middle school and high school boys have liked this book because it is told from their perspective. However, since it is the kind of book that explores how individuals use compassion and courage to cope with the unthinkable, it is a good story for any young reader to add to their memory bank. One of the many great things about being a reader is that a reader will have company on life’s long bumpy road. Right Behind You is a good book to have packed for the ride.