Asher's Fault by Elizabeth WheelerPublished by Bold Strokes Books
Blurb: The day fourteen-year-old Asher receives a Minolta camera from his aunt Sharon, he buys the last roll of black-and-white film and takes his first photograph—a picture of a twisted pine tree. He’s so preoccupied with his new hobby he fails to notice his dad’s plan to move out, his increasing alienation from his testosterone-ridden best friend, Levi, and his own budding sexuality. When his little brother drowns at the same moment Asher experiences his first same-sex kiss, he can no longer hide behind the lens of his camera. Asher thinks it’s his fault, but after his brother dies, his father resurfaces along with clues challenging Asher’s black-and-white view of the world. The truth is as twisted as the pine tree in his first photograph.
Review: I loved this book. So much so that, despite having to work the next morning I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it. Teens everywhere, gay or straight, will relate to Asher, Garrett, Levi, Jennifer, and Kayla. There are so many different personalities in this book, each one so realistic I felt as if I knew them personally.
Asher is struggling to accept his parents divorce, especially when his father leaves his mother for another woman. His younger brother, Travis, annoys him, but as you find out from the blurb alone, his brother dies right at the same moment he has his first kiss with another boy. And I mean literally right at that moment.
What follows is a beautiful story about truths and lies. What is the truth? How do we know who is telling the truth and who isn't? Asher's friendship with Levi starts to fade when his friend becomes a member of the football team, and though Kayla is so different from him and doesn't want to fit any mold, she appears to be the one person who understands him the most.
I love that Asher uses an old camera to capture his photos rather than a digital camera. There's just something so much more special about taking a photo that way. His care in taking the photos is shown very carefully on the page.
In the end, I found myself standing in the open field with the sun hot on my head and neck and arms. I studied how the bark turned black when the sunlight was directly behind it, how the longer I stood there, the longer the shadow grew on the ground. I watched how the clouds changed beyond the tree. Last summer, I had hoisted Travis up to perch on the flat part of the curve. HIs legs were longer now; he could probably scramble up there on his own. I circled the tree again with the camera against my face.I'm very happy that there will be a sequel because I want more of everyone. I want to know what happens between Asher and Garrett, and if Asher ever confronts his mother and father with the truth about Travis. Needless to say I was shocked when at the VERY end you find out a secret.
The sun grew a shade brighter. I could actually see the veins on the bark through the viewfinder. I held the camera steady and adjusted the zoom. An internal light warned red until I pressed the button halfway down. The camera whirred and focused for me, and the twisted trunk of the pine tree came clear in the square of the viewfinder. The red light blinked and turned green. I felt the pinch of a mosquito on my forearm and a trickle of sweat running from my hairline to my jaw., but I didn't brush either away. I took my first picture. That afternoon I used the whole roll on that pine tree.
And reader's are left with the biggest question of all. When it comes to Travis's death, whose fault was it really?
Review by Jennifer