Lost in Clover by Travis Richardson
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (96 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
Welcome to Clover, Kansas, a small town sitting in the middle of America’s Heartland. It’s a peaceful community, until the night that high school student Jeremy Rogers accepts an invitation to party with the “cool” older kids. After things go irreparably wrong, and Clover is thrust into the national spotlight, Jeremy keeps his involvement a secret. As the town heals from the tragedy, Jeremy falls into a psychological abyss from which he cannot escape, until he encounters the monster from his past and has an opportunity to redeem himself.
Sometimes living with the emotional aftermath of a tragedy is more difficult than experiencing it in the first place. It’s easy to wonder how the outcome of a terrible event might have improved if you’d tried a different approach but living in the past can never change what happened.
Jeremy is deeply conflicted. He knows more about what really happened than he lets on but he has no idea how to release his secret without causing more harm. His guilt and subsequent depression went a long way in endearing me to this character. Emotional trauma can take much more time to heal than a bullet wound or broken limb and because the injuries are invisible even the most well-meaning relatives may not understand what one is going through.
As much as I liked Jeremy the stereotypes in this book threatened to overwhelm the plot. Crazy Eddie’s family is dirt poor, verbally and physically abusive, alcoholic, gun-crazed, racist and ignorant. The citizens of Clover are so xenophobic that they blame troubles for which their friends and neighbours are responsible on the media. Outsiders are dragged through the coals for breaking laws that Clover residents trample over without a second thought.
I grew up in a similar community and know that there are kernels of truth behind all of these stereotypes. The cultural differences between small, rural towns and the urban reports who descend on Clover after the shooting are cannot be ignored. What concerns me is how poorly some of Jeremy’s friends and family members may come across to readers who have never lived in a small town. Casual firearm use and a school prayer that is not lead by students are two of the issues that stand out to me as the easiest for people who have not grown up in this culture to misunderstand.
With that being said the plot of Lost in Clover did an excellent job portraying how the events of one horrific night can ripple through the lives of those affect by it a decade later. Time doesn’t heal all wounds and some memories will never have their sharp edges blunted no matter how many years pass.
Lost in Clover is a chilling reminder of what happens when secrets fester. This is the perfect book for anyone who has ever ached for the truth to be revealed or wondered what really happens behind the closed doors of other people’s houses.