It’s been ten years since seventeen-year-old Joe Moon last saw his older brother Ed.
But it wasn’t because he didn’t want to see him, or vice versa.
It’s because brutal circumstances have forcibly kept them apart.
It’s because Ed is on death row for a murder he swears he never committed.
There is no proof linking him to the crime. There is no evidence- circumstantial or otherwise. The only thing keeping Ed on death row is the fact that he signed a confession to the murder when he was under duress, as well as tired, scared, confused and without any legal presence. That signed confession moved the courts to decide he was guilty, sending him to ‘the farm’- where he has since remained.
Joe hasn’t been able to visit him in his Texan cell due to his age. But when Ed is given an execution date, special exemptions are made so that Joe is able to see him. Will this be the last summer that the brothers ever spend together? Or will justice be served and Ed finally set free?
This verse novel explores the issues of life, death, love and forgiveness- prompting readers to question the integrity of the justice system and its flaws. While most people on death row admittedly deserve to be there, there are a small minority (as shown in this novel) that are there through dubious circumstances.
This novel provides a strong argument regarding the validity of the death penalty, citing many reasons against it. As Joe mentions, ‘it costs around four million dollars to go through with an execution. That’s eight times more money than to imprison someone for life. Not that anyone gives a damn: killing is worth every cent’. He also comments on the number of botched executions, and the way that the families of the perpetrators are treated in comparison to the families of the victims. It’s not hard to imagine this book going into the school curriculum, for all the issues that it represents.
This is a moving novel, and one that will stay with you long after you finish reading it. The storyline opens up a whole different view on the death penalty, and what it means for the death row inmates and their families. Moving between Joe’s present day experiences and his childhood with Ed, the author is able to show the lead-up to Ed’s arrest and the familial relationships that preceded it. This helps readers to see Ed as more than just a one-dimensional character, and lead us to form our own opinions on him. While he is flawed, Ed still extends a special kind of love towards his siblings, aunt and even his train-wreck mother, which is more than obvious (as is the reciprocated love from Joe, his sister Angela and Aunt Karen).
This is a fantastic, raw and moving novel. Even if you’re not a fan of the verse-writing format, the storyline will still draw you in and make you think.