June 21, 2021

#BookReview: The Tragedy of Dane Riley by Kat Spears

Synopsis: Dane Riley's grasp on reality is slipping, and he's not sure that he cares. While his mother has moved on after his father's death, Dane desperately misses the man who made Dane feel okay to be himself. He can't stand his mother's boyfriend, or the boyfriend's son, whose favorite pastime is tormenting Dane. Then there's the girl next door: Dane can't quite define their relationship, and he doesn't know if he's got the courage to leave the friend zone.

An emotional novel about mental health, and dealing with grief and growing up, The Tragedy of Dane Riley is the story of a teenager looking to make sense of his feelings in the wake of tragedy, and finding the strength he needs to make life worth living.


Rating: 2 Stars
My Review: This character driven story was full of first love and acceptance.  It was wonderfully done but I wished that the plot of the story would have been more developed.  A lot of the emotions that the main character was feeling felt like they could be deeper. And parts of the story just didn't work for me at all.  I feel like this just needed to be more thought out in part. 

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—Dane Riley likes to go deep. Whether he's contemplating the meaning of the universe or analyzing the way his mother dresses, he can't seem to get outside of his head. Surviving a suicide attempt lands him in an elite boarding school, where his parents feel that the mandatory involvement will help him engage with others. But when he returns home after his junior year, Dane is shocked to find that his father is a shell of the man he had been, a result of his secret battle with cancer. A few months later he is gone, and Dane and his mom are left to pick up the pieces of their lives. As Dane struggles with his anger and grief, he must deal with his mother's relationship with his dad's best friend, his obsession with Ophelia, the dynamic next-door neighbor, and his lapse into increasingly violent outbursts. Though he feels like his private texts to his father's old cell number are the only bits of connection he has, he begins to see that there are multiple ways to face grief and anxiety. Spears tackles the difficult subjects of depression and grief in a way that is accessible to teens. Dane is white, Ophelia is Black and white, and other characters are of various backgrounds, and the text includes thoughtful talking points about race and ethnicity. Though the narrative is heavier on dialogue and introspection than plot, its witty lines and authentic emotional exchanges are sure to appeal to anyone going through a difficult time. VERDICT A moving, realistic portrayal of mental illness and grief. Recommended for high school libraries.—Karin Greenberg, Manhasset H.S., NY


“In this necessary tale grappling with some of the prickly parts of life―mental health, loss, friendship―Spears proves once again that she's a master, not just of the teenage voice, but also of carefully crafting stories with both heart and teeth. Stories that bond themselves to readers and live with them―in them―far after the last page.” ―Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling author of Stamped and Long Way Down

Praise for Kat Spears:

“A rare study of growing pains that gives equal weight to humor and hardship.” - Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) on Breakaway

“A painfully honest and powerful depiction of the changing nature of friendships in the face of hardship and an exploration of what it means 'to be human and alive.'” - Booklist (Starred Review) on Breakaway

"Spears showcases a talent for creating believably flawed characters seeking connection in the aftermath of tragedy." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on Breakaway

“This sad yet hopeful romance will appeal to readers of Steven Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why.” - School Library Journal on Breakaway

“Sharp dialogue, edgy humor, and an unlikely hero make this page-turner a winner.” - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on Sway

“A compelling debut told with swagger and real depth.” - Kirkus (Starred Review) on Sway

“Raw, honest…A gritty take on the male high school experience.” ―Booklist on Sway

“A page turner about high school's victims and villains -- and about layers of callousness that spring from true grief. ” ―Meg Medina, Pura Belpre award-winning author of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass on Sway

About the Author

Kat Spears grew up moving every few years and is still looking for her hometown. Kat writes realistic, edgy, honest, sometimes heartbreaking, often funny books about and for young people. Being a teenager sucked for Kat, and she’s still trying to write her way out of it. She spends her free time rearing caterpillars, vacuuming up dog hair, and writing letters the old-fashioned way. Her favorite job, ever, is being the mother of three perfect and hilarious humans. She is the author of Sway, Breakaway, and The Boy Who Killed Grant Parker.

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FTC Guidelines: In accordance with FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers, I would like my readers to know that many of the books I review are provided to me for free by the publisher or author of the book in exchange for an honest review. If am compensated for any reviews on this site I will state that post has been sponsored. 


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