Excerpt from Redemption Road by John Hart, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Redemption Road

by John Hart

Redemption Road by John Hart X
Redemption Road by John Hart
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  • First Published:
    May 2016, 432 pages
    May 2017, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite
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Gideon Strange opened his eyes to dark and heat and the sound of his father weeping. He held very still, though the sobbing was neither new nor unexpected. His father often ended up in the corner—huddled as if his son's bedroom were the world's last good place—and Gideon thought about asking why, after all these years, his father was still so sad and weak and broken. It would be a simple question, and if his father were any kind of man, he'd probably answer it. But Gideon knew what his father would say and so kept his head on the pillow and watched the dark corner until his father pulled himself up and crossed the room. For long minutes he stood silently, looking down; then he touched Gideon's hair and tried to whisper himself strong, saying, Please, God, please, then asking strength from his long-dead wife, so that Please, God turned into Help me, Julia.

Gideon thought it was pitiful, the helplessness and tears, the shaking, dirty fingers. Holding still was the hardest part, not because his mother was dead and had no answer, but because Gideon knew that if he moved at all, his father might ask if he was awake or sad or equally lost. Then Gideon would have to tell the truth, not that he was any of those things, but that he was more lonesome inside than any boy his age should be. But his father didn't speak again. He ran fingers through his son's hair and stood perfectly still as if whatever strength he sought might magically find him. Gideon knew that would never happen. He'd seen pictures of his father before and had a few dim memories of a man who laughed and smiled and didn't drink most every hour of every day. For years he'd thought that man might return, that it could still happen. But Gideon's father wore his days like a faded suit, an empty man whose only passion rose from thoughts of his long-dead wife. He seemed alive enough then, but what use were flickers or hints?

The man touched his son's hair a final time, then crossed the room and pulled the door shut. Gideon waited a minute before rolling out of bed, fully dressed. He was running on caffeine and adrenaline, trying hard to remember the last time he'd slept or dreamed or thought of anything else besides what it would take to kill a man.

Swallowing hard, he cracked the door, trying to ignore that his arms were skinny-white and his heart was running fast as a rabbit's. He told himself that fourteen years was man enough, and that he didn't need to be any older to pull a trigger. God wanted boys to become men, after all, and Gideon was only doing what his father would do if his father were man enough to do it. That meant killing and dying were part of God's plan, too, and Gideon said as much in the dark of his mind, trying hard to convince the parts of him that shook and sweated and wanted to throw up.

Thirteen years had passed since his mother's murder, then three weeks since Gideon had found his father's small, black gun, and ten more days since he'd figured out a 2:00 a.m. train would carry him to the gray, square prison on the far side of the county. Gideon knew kids who'd hopped trains before. The key, they said, was to run fast and not think on how sharp and heavy those big, shiny wheels truly were. But Gideon worried he'd jump and miss and go under. He had nightmares about it every night, a flash of light and dark, then pain so true he woke with an ache in the bones of his legs. It was an awful image, even awake, so he pushed it down and cracked the door wide enough to see his father slumped in an old brown chair, a pillow squeezed to his chest as he stared at the broken television where Gideon had hidden the gun after he stole it from his father's dresser drawer two nights ago. He realized now that he should have kept the gun in his room, but there was no better hiding place, he'd thought, than the dried-out guts of a busted-up television that hadn't worked since he was five.

Excerpted from Redemption Road by John Hart. Copyright © 2016 by John Hart. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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