Daniel, Lance and Marty were best friends and inseparable until a tragedy happens to change it all. Marty took his own life and the guilt, anger and frustration felt by both Lance and Daniel create a rift in their friendship. As Daniel narrates the beginning of the story and relates the events that lead up to the funeral you can hear the frustration, anger and despair as he tries to explain to Lance how he feels and how they both react to the death of a good friend. Thinking they could have stopped him from committing suicide they focus on his father, their feelings and as he alights to the platform to speak at his son’s funeral both boys leave.
Graduation comes and goes and the two friends hardly speak or see each other. A broken friendship that could not withstand the death or loss of a friend so how can you repair a lifetime but yet Daniel McAllister and Lance Parker wanted to try. How do solve solder the rift: A road trip. The death of a friend is hard to deal with and the two high school seniors endure more than must the death, as they have to come to terms with their own feelings and thoughts. As they begin their journey what they learn will either mend their friendship or destroy them forever. The truth behind Marty’s death when revealed will alter them forever.
Friendships do not always last forever. But, when their best friends takes his life how do two these two teens deal with it. One friend guilt ridden, fearful and embarrassed because he feels responsible for what happened and the other finding solace by escaping his living friend and trying to move on with his life, but can’t. But, a brief encounter would change the dynamics of both Lance and Daniel’s lives as they embark on a road trip that would hopefully mend their friendship, come full circle with the events of Martin’s death and find a place in this world where they both belonged. Lance wanted to prove himself and overcome the guilt he harbored within himself for Martin’s suicide. Daniel, running form himself, hiding from his disability and his parents who seem embarrassed having him around. A road trip that will take them in many different directions from a porn bookstore to a bar and a tie within that bookstore and the events to a man named Buck who would enlighten them both.
As they enter the bar and get totally plastered the events that follow would show the reader that Daniel has grown somewhat and Lance just might have too. A strong memory leading back to Martin enters Daniel’s mind as they try to rekindle their own friendship, Lance reveals what really happened between him and Martin and the reason behind his suicide.
Lance just wants to run away from his guilt but the antics they pull, even though they are quite juvenile are typical teen stunts and some are funny, some a hilarious and others prove tragic. Throwing total caution to the wind, thinking they killed an older man when they find him in the back seat of their car what happens next will definitely surprise the reader as this man named Buck would teach both teens many important lessons in life. Revelations are made and they decide to return home. The sad past is Lance’s parents never really noticed he was missing and Daniel’s did not even hear his voice when he returned. Injured from an accident he winds up in the hospital and then grounded for an entire summer. When Lance become overwhelmed with anger and the guilt within him too strong he confesses it all the police hoping they will believe him and justice will finally be served. But, how can you accuse a pillar of the community of a crime that you cannot prove was committed. As both boys leave the police station the end result is a tragic accident, which concludes part one of the book.
Part two begins thirty years later with a frantic phone call from Carla, Lance’s wife to Daniel begging him to come to see her to help Lance. But, when her real motives are revealed and Lance’s whereabouts found, Daniel wants nothing to do with it but can he desert his old friend? Seeing Lance brings back memories that flood into Daniel’s mind but which he chooses to forget. Leaving and on his way back home to his wife and son, he calls her and says he won’t be coming home that night. Instead, he takes a U-Turn back to Lance, reveals the fact that his wife is pregnant and hopes they can mend their ways too. But, what happens next and his plan to fix the past and make it right takes a turn so tragic and proves more destructive than either expected. Deciding to prove what really happened to Lance in the past they kidnap the find the man responsible, tape their conversation but the end result is the tape is muffled and what happens next leads both men down a single path that one will never return from. Kidnapping the man in the back of their car the end result is tragic and the secret they hope to keep can only be sealed with the help of one man from the past. As the past comes into the present and we learn that Daniel is now a prominent lawyer and Lance works in an auto plant the two team up to try and right another wrong but can they? When Lance tries his best to cope with what he did can he keep himself in check and not reveal the truth? Author Randy Richardson brings to light many important issues in this novel. Friendships, loyalties and betrayals are tested and revealed before all is said and done. Fears are brought to light and one teen proves too weak to cope while the other will learn more than just a lesson about friendship but forgiveness too. As Lance we hear Lance’s voice at the end what does he reveal to Daniel and the reader? What is their final fate and which one will pay the ultimate price for something that happened 30 years ago? When you walk a beaten path over again sometimes your footsteps return to the same place and wind up in the wrong direction. Never walk the same road twice or rewind your life when the first result was tragic. What happens at the end you will learn when you read Cheeseland for yourself and find out what one character learns about himself and life. Is it ever too late to forgive those you tried to love for their mistakes in the past and move on in the future? Read this thought provoking novel and find out. For all parents and educators out there you need to read this novel, pay attention to your teens, listen and hear their words and make sure they know you will support them no matter what.
Characters that are so well defined and a plot that will definitely keep you glued to the printed page from start to finish. This is one novel that really surprised me when reading it. This is one novel that is a definite must read.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer
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Research in Brain Traumatic Injury