Everything I touch is dust, everything I touch crumbles, everything I do goes wrong.
In a story that’s only fifty-seven pages long, Clem Martini gives readers a story that is heartfelt, powerful, and like all good stories, observes the complexity of life by asking hard questions and giving no easy answers. A young boy is living in a facility for young offenders. Readers don’t know why or how this child is sent there. As the story unfolds we learn that the young boy is Greg, fifteen-years old, and sent to a facility for underage sex offenders after having sexually assaulted his stepsister. After a mentally draining meeting with counselors, his mom and stepdad, Greg runs away from camp.
This may sound like a depressing book but it’s really not. It is sad. The author asks a lot of hard questions that readers need to think about. Until this book, I didn’t think about what happens to these kids after they have committed a horrendous act at such a young age. Or what causes them to commit these acts to start with.
During the group therapy sessions that Greg has to attend, readers learn the stories of some of the other kids there and the abuse they suffered by family members. Readers learn about the sexual abuse that Greg himself endures as a child, his relationship with his family, and how Greg comes to be who he is and why he did what he did. Learning the stories of those who committed such horrible acts doesn’t take away any of the pain that their victims suffer or lessen the horror of the abuse. But this story can start a dialogue about sexual abuse and youth offenders.