Relevant posts: The Art Teacher
I received a free physical copy of this book from the publishers as part of the Legend 100 Club in exchange for an honest review.
It is the summer of 1989 when Lucas witnesses an event that will tear his family apart. Over a decade later, his estrange father succumbs to a suspected heart attack.
Lucas shuns grief and escapes to New York with his colleague Mariana. However, a dark secret threatens to destroy the burgeoning relationship before it has even begun.
When his father’s girlfriend fails to reappear after reporting his death, the true cause of his demise falls under scrutiny. And as the startling truth comes to light, Lucas must confront the fact that father and son may not have been so different after all.
Blame is Paul Read’s second novel following Lucas as he attempts to understand the truth behind his father’s demise at such a young age. In his attempts, Lucas comes across an old diary of his from the summer of 1989 that he hopes will bring to light information about his father and why he was the way that he was. But, as the truth unravels and Lucas begins to take a look at his own life as well, he discovers that him and his father are very similar – something he does not wish to acknowledge.
I found Blame to be of an entirely different atmosphere to that of Paul’s first novel, The Art Teacher. From the minute I read the first word, I got a dark and unsettling feeling about the novel from the way that Lucas looked at the world and how it was portrayed. This novel, if anything, is definitely not light-hearted and Lucas’s character fits the bill within this scenario with his gloomy perspective on life and the sense that he is just trudging through each day. Though this feeling does sometimes lift itself, especially when Lucas is around Mariana, it definitely foreshadows any events to come and makes you understand that Lucas’s life isn’t all that it seems. Lucas’ inability to accept that he can grieve and his hatred towards his father, adds to this feeling as he attempts to put aside and hide away everything that is happening around him as he runs to New York with Mariana so as not to face the truth of his father’s demise. Lucas comes with all his flaws, and it is his flaws that hold similarities to his father.
Coupled alongside the present day narrative, Read breaks up the narrative with extracts from Lucas’s 1989 diary which adds a different perspective to Lucas’s relationship with his father and helps to clarify what happened between them. The diary, told from a child’s perspective, holds a realistic and simple voice that tells events as it is without any embellishments and it becomes clear that Lucas has all but blanked out some of the events that happened to him in his childhood. Though these entries alleviate the overall feeling of doom and gloom, there are still elements within these entries in regards to some of the events taking place and the general family home atmosphere Lucas experienced even back then.
Blame is a novel all about family and the secrets that are hidden beneath the facade of a perfect family unit. Even when he is not surrounded by his own family and is off with Mariana in New York, there is always some connection that links back to the family dynamic with Lucas watching and observing the way in which Mariana and her family react around each other. With all the events that have occurred throughout his life, it is probable that Lucas has never truly felt a part of a family dynamic which led him into the downward spiral that so clearly mirrors his own father. Read rounds off Blame with a clear resolution in all aspects of this novel that lifts the melancholy of the novel and provides light and a way forward as Lucas turns his life around.