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Inexcusable Paperback – May 8, 2007

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An Ember in the Ashes
"An Ember in the Ashes"
When Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.Learn more | More in Teen and Young Adult

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up–Keir is a senior who fancies himself a lovable rogue. So do his widowed father, his older sisters, and his classmates. He likes being liked; he just doesn't do well with involvement. Keir would never do anything to hurt anyone intentionally–or would he? When he tackles and cripples a member of an opposing football team, it's determined to be an accident–one that earns him the good-humored nickname, Killer. When he and his buddies destroy a town statue, they consider it a high-spirited, funny prank. When he gets drunk, the alcohol abuse is dismissed as silly, harmless drinks, and drugs at parties are strictly recreational. And when he date rapes the girl he thinks he loves, at first he convinces himself that the way it looks is not the way it is. Keir's first-person narrative chillingly exposes the rationalization process that the troubled teen goes through to persuade himself and those around him of his innocence. Characters are clearly developed through immediately post-rape chapters that alternate with flashbacks of Keir's experiences and perceptions leading up to that point. As compelling as Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak (Farrar, 1999), though with a different point of view, this finely crafted and thought-provoking page-turner carefully conveys that it is simply inexcusable to whitewash wrongs, and that those responsible should (and hopefully will) pay the price.–Diane P. Tuccillo, City of Mesa Library, AZ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* "The way it looks is not the way it is," begins Lynch's bone-chilling new novel. It looks like a date rape, and in the novel's first scene, set just after the alleged crime, teen Gigi accuses narrator Keir, whose terrifying denial ("I am a good guy . . and so I could not have done this") sets the book's tone.

Many YA novels about rape, such as Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak (1999), have shown the horror and pain from the victim's perspective, but Lynch's daring story is told in the defensive voice of the accused rapist. In chapters that move between the rape scene and the past, Keir tries to convince readers of his own innocence and earn their trust: "I'm going to tell you the truth," he says early on. "You could ask pretty much anybody and they will tell you. Rock solid, Keir. Kind of guy you want behind you . . . Loyal, polite. Funny. Good manners. He was brought up right, that boy was."

Attempting to defend his character with anecdotes from his senior year of high school, Keir relates a string of disturbing, morally ambiguous stories in an energetic voice that's alternately playful, earnest, rational, and, as almost all readers will recognize, deluded. Many stories involve Keir's football team, including an on-field accident in which Keir cripples a receiver during a routine play and releases himself from blame. When Keir joins his teammates in violent year-end hazing and vandalism, and then watches a videotape of their actions, he struggles to reconcile the reality of himself and his friends as frightening aggressors with the "lovable rogues" he has imagined.

His rationalizations, his response to so many incidents, convince readers that they are listening to an unreliable narrator, a sense that only increases as the story progresses, returning frequently to the rape scene, and Gigi's furious and clear accusation: "You raped me." In one of the many remarks directed straight to readers, Keir says, "I'm lying. I said I wouldn't do that to you, but I am," which simultaneously undermines his credibility and draws him closer to his audience, creating an uncomfortable intimacy that Lynch masterfully balances throughout the novel.

Through expertly drawn, subtle, every-guy details, Lynch creates a nuanced, wholly believable character that will leave many readers shaking with recognition: They know this guy, a strong athlete who fleetingly struggles with his self image, loves (and is disappointed by) his family, wants to have fun with his friends, and has a deep crush on a girl. His very familiarity, combined with his slippery morality, violent actions, and shocking self-denial, will prompt many readers to question themselves, and their own decisions and accepted ways of talking and behaving with each other.

Teens may doubt Keir's reliability as a narrator, but his self-recognition, in a final, searing scene, rings true. Here, and throughout this unforgettable novel, Lynch raises fierce, painful questions about athletic culture, family denial, violence, and rape, and readers will want to think and talk about them all. Where does personal responsibility begin? What defines a "good guy"? Are we all capable of monstrous things? Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416939725
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416939726
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

All he did was continue to say I am a good guy, so I couldn't do it.
They didn't appear as frequent in the book as other characters, but scenes with them seemed more emotional and connected.
I would highly recommend this book for young adults as an eye-opener.
Emily L. Broadie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on November 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Keir Sarafian is a self-proclaimed "good guy." After all, he says, he has "character witnesses." His two older sisters love, respect and support him, and "people like that don't support monsters." And, of course, there's Keir's dad Ray. Widowed for more than fifteen years, Ray expends all of his energy on his kids (OK, and some on the occasional glass of beer...or two...or more). "You had to be a good guy if you were Ray Sarafian's kid," says Keir. "You couldn't possibly be anything less."

As Keir's narrative unfolds, though, readers may start to question whether Ray's "good guy" persona is really accurate. Troubling chapters that take place in the aftermath of an action that Gigi Boudakian is calling date rape alternate with chapters that tell the story of Keir's senior year in high school. Keir claims that the point of these stories is to tell the truth, to show that he's not the kind of guy who could ever be capable of rape.

As the saga of Keir's senior year unfolds, though, his account raises more questions than it answers. Keir's masterful tackle during the football season, which leaves the tacklee paralyzed and gives Keir the nickname "Killer," is an accident --- right? Clearly Keir wouldn't have gotten all those football scholarships otherwise --- would he? That video that shows a shadowy figure violently hazing the high school's soccer team couldn't be of Keir --- could it? That statue of Paul Revere couldn't have been so utterly destroyed by Keir and his friends in a post-party frenzy --- could it? And, of course, it's normal for Keir to forget all of these episodes after a night of binge drinking and popping pills --- isn't it?
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By terryannlibrarian on December 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
i really really hated this book. which is exactly why it is so very good. from the beginning i was convinced that kier was a sociopath...but the ending which vindicated this theory was anything by satisfying. it burns me up when i think about it even now, which is, i think, exactly what lynch wanted.

lynch's take on modern day high school is extremely authentic.

i remember many boys exactly like this from those years of my own life...destructive, pill popping, line toting, jerks who refuse to take responsibility for their actions and are given leeway because they are good at a sport.

kier rejects all reality checks (like when his sister honestly points out their father's enabling behavior) and when things don't go his way, he invents his own reality in his head, editing the things he doesn't want to see.

quite honestly, this book is unique. a close look at society's tendency to 'hand it all over' to the boys who can kick around a football.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Robinson on July 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is fascinating and disturbing. I couldn't put it down. Inexcusable, by Chris Lynch, is told from the perspective of Keir Sarafian, a high school senior, football kicker, and self-proclaimed "good guy". The very first scene depicts Keir in a bedroom having an intense confrontation with Gigi Boudakian, the girl that he claims to love. Gigi rails against him for what he's just done to her. "I said no" she insists. Keir argues with her, and with himself, because the picture in front of him simply can't be right. He is baffled. He can't possibly have just done this to someone he loves.

The rest of the book consists of a series of flashbacks of Keir's senior year, as he looks at himself, his family, and at recent events in his life. These scenes are interspersed with scenes from the confrontation with Gigi, and the reader only gradually learns what has led up to the conflict in the bedroom.

At first glance, Keir seems like a nice guy. He's popular, with plenty of friends. He's very close to his father and his two older sisters (his mother died when he was young). He has an engaging, self-deprecating voice. However, it becomes clear quite early in the book that there is a disconnect between Keir's view of himself and who he really is.

For example, Keir tackles an opposing player in a football game, permanently injuring the other boy, and costing the boy a chance at a football career. Instead of feeling remorse or empathy, Keir mostly worries about himself, and whether or not other people will perceive him as a monster. He blames the coach who put him in, and even blames the other kid for not getting up when he should have. Other incidents follow, and the pattern of lack of remorse or responsibility, and of blaming other people, strengthens.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Emily L. Broadie on February 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book was fantastic! It offered a realistic view about how even the most well-loved, seemingly perfect young male could corrupt his own life by one staggering decision. The boy seems to make honorable decisions throughout the book: says no to any hard drugs, does not participate in unsportsman-like conduct or hazing other students and maintains loyalty to his family. The entire story, of the boy's senior year in high school, was brought to a close with the question of the perception of a rape he supposedly committed. Did he rape the girl? Was her answer yes because she didn't say no? Did her actions say yes for her? His perception of the event in question is very different from the girl involved. Inexcusable is a book that speaks of truth, lies and the perception of both to different people. I would highly recommend this book for young adults as an eye-opener.
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