Contemporary, Fiction, Middle Grade

Blood On His Hands

Blood On His Hands  book cover
Image from teenreads.com

Title:  Blood On His Hands

Author:  Willo Davis Roberts

Genre: Contemporary

Marc Solie is on the run – he has been for what seems like forever, although it’s been less than two years since his sister died and his family fell apart.  This time, though, it’s different.  Marc’s not just running from himself; he’s running from the cops.  He’s done something bad.  Maybe as bad as murder.  Marc’s only chance is to get to his father.  His father would know how to get him out of this mess.  But Marc hasn’t talked to his father for months, and he’s not sure where he is.  So Marc keeps running, following Interstate 5 north to Washington, hoping to find his father before the cops catch him…

After reading Willo Davis Roberts’ The Girl with the Silver Eyes as a kid, I went out and read every one of her books I could get my hands on.  So when I was at the library the other day and found Blood On His Hands, which I hadn’t read, I picked it up – more for nostalgia than anything.

Marc, honestly, was about one step up from flat.  About the only aspects to his personality were his anger – at his mother’s boyfriend, at God, at whatever thing happened to make him mad – and his grief over his sister’s death.  He wasn’t a really angry kid, although he had his moments, and he wasn’t really a great character.

Normally, this is the point where I’d mention other characters, but while there’s a bunch of minor characters who show up in flashbacks, Marc is the only one who’s in the entire book.

Speaking of flashbacks, almost the entire book is flashbacks.  It starts out with Marc looking for a ride on Interstate 5.  Extended flashback of his sister’s death.  He gets a ride.  Extended flashback of his mother’s horrible boyfriend.  His ride drops him off.  Extended flashback of how he ended up a maybe-murderer.  Gets a ride, flashback, ride drops him off, flashback, gets a ride, flashback…on and on, with more super-long flashbacks than present time.

For the most part, it wasn’t horrible – except when there was a transition.  It’d go on for five chapters in one time frame, then jump to another and leave me going, “but we were over there!”  The flashbacks were an important part of the story.  But I think Willo Davis Roberts should have put more details into the traveling-to-find-his-father part and told the story in chronological order.

Overall, I didn’t mind the story.  But I definitely wouldn’t call it one of the author’s best works.

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