by Kat Spears
Published on September 20, 2016
by St. Martin's Griffin
Source: eARC for review from publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: Luke Grayson's life might as well be over when he's forced to go live in rural Tennessee with his Baptist pastor father. His reputation as a troublemaker has followed him there, and as an outsider, Luke is automatically under suspicion by everyone from the principal at his new school to the local police chief. His social life is no better. The new kid in town is an easy target for Grant Parker, the local golden boy with a violent streak who has the entire community of Ashland under his thumb.But things go topsy-turvy when a freak accident removes Grant from the top of the social pyramid, replacing him with Luke. This fish out of water has suddenly gone from social outcast to hero in a matter of twenty-four hours. For the students who have lived in fear of Grant all their lives, this is a welcome change. But Luke’s new found fame comes with a price. Nobody knows the truth about what really happened to Grant Parker except for Luke, and the longer he keeps living the lie, the more like Grant Parker he becomes.My take: I've enjoyed all of Kat Spears's books. But I'll be completely honest: at first, I really wasn't sure about The Boy Who Killed Grant Parker. Despite the provocative title, this is a "quiet" book with a story that moves at a measured pace. But eventually, I was won over.
The book's premise is a really familiar one - new kid bumps up against the social order in a small town. Luke is a preacher's kid and not a bad kid at all, but when he moves to live with his father in a small Tennessee town, he keeps finding himself on the wrong end of everyone's expectations. I was getting a serious Footloose vibe, even though in the film it's Ariel, not Ren, who's the preacher's kid.
I don't want to give too much away about Grant except that, as the synopsis indicates, he's a bully who's used to getting his way. Luke's not afraid of him, and trouble ensues.
I'm pretty sure that in a review of another Kat Spears book, I said that her stories feel timeless, and I felt that way again reading The Boy Who Killed Grant Parker. I actually love that her books don't try to be trendy, but explore YA themes that never get old: fitting in and standing out, chafing against rules and authority, having a crush on the wrong person when the right one is under your nose all along... Her books make me nostalgic for the teen movies of my youth!