HOW I RUINED MY LIFE
by Taran Bainter
Kyle has gone unnoticed for the vast majority of his life and he’s always preferred it that way. Homeschooled, shy, and only attending church because he’s forced to, there’s not really anything outstanding or interesting about him. That changes, however, when he meets James Porter. The two are fast friends, but Kyle isn’t sure if that’s a good thing or not. While some of the experiences resulting from their friendship are grand, many other experiences leave Kyle broken, angry, and depressed. Is Kyle’s friendship with James really such a good thing, or would he have been better off if he’d simply remained the quiet, lonely boy that no one seemed to notice?
This is a coming of age story, but not the sweet kind, rather one that allows the bites and scars to shine through in all of their harsh glory.
Kyle is a sheltered, home-schooled teenager, whose main social interaction centers around the youth group at church. His attitude hits hard with a bitterness, which left me a little off kilter more than once. When he meets James, a kid who's a social sunshine in comparison, Kyle's life opens up not only allowing positive situations to come his way, but lots of pain, heartache and disappointment as well. In other words, Kyle grows up to become a decent man.
A large variety of issues are touched upon during this story, ones which teens will have no trouble relating to. . .and adults will look back at and cringe. The characters which color Kyle's life are well done, allowing a wonderful depth to trickle in. Every moment, good or bad, effects Kyle and molds him as he develops.
This isn't an action story, but rather one that hovers in thought. Although Kyle finds himself in many different situations, facing many decisions, and there are moments (especially one) which twists the plot in a completely unexpected way, the pace remains steady with few peaks. This is the kind of book which leaves a mark and has the reader glancing back long after they've laid the book down.
This read fell out of my normal genre (fantasy, scifi and speculative), and proved to be a bit of a rough ride. The writing is well done, and the messages are provoking, but I had a trouble with Kyle's attitude at times. Although his actions are understandable and, in a way, I could sympathize with him, I had trouble connecting with him, and at times, simply disliked him. But that isn't a bad thing, in this case. Kyle has thorns, and that's what makes him who he is.
Summed up, this is a wonderful book for those who enjoy delving into characters and their dark shadows as they follow the curves life throws. Although written for the YA audience, this is one adults will find truths in as well.
And here he is. . .
T. L. Bainter was born in 1994 and began writing short stories not long after that. Since the age of six, he has been churning out short story after short story. After receiving an award from the renowned Writers of the Future competition for his short story Edwin, T. L. Bainter found the confidence and encouragement that he needed to write and publish his first novel: How I Ruined My Life. Currently, he resides in Kansas City with his cat, Sooba.