Wednesday, April 15, 2020

#atozchallenge #bookreview Not Guilty by C. Lee McKenzie

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My theme this year is blogging about my author brand. Wednesdays' posts are book reviews.

#AtoZChallenge 2020 Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter M

Not Guilty by C. Lee McKenzie

I liked reading this book. Part of it was difficult because it reminded me of part of my youth (but that's a credit to the author for writing something so evocative). There's a good metaphor about the basketball court and the court of law. As the title suggests, the main character is not guilty. But as the book goes on, despite knowing this, even I started to question if he did it somehow. That's the point of the story, I think. How even if we really believe someone wouldn't do something, we can be tricked into thinking otherwise.

What really fascinated me was the Mia character. Especially when Devon realizes the impact his reputation has had on her. It's easy to feel like you're an island, like your choices don't influence how others see people in your circle (your family, friends, co-workers, community, etc), but that's not true.

A part that really resonated with me was said by a secondary character, Pinky McCloud (I love that name). "Seriously, you're on the different half of the Oceanside High planet, my man -- the Pinky half. This is where all miscreants are punished more severely than the law punishes them and for one heck of a lot longer."

I received a free copy of this book and am leaving an honest review.  The author and I are connected on social media and visit each others' blogs occasionally. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a YA drama or stories about unfair punishments for innocent people. Contemporary YA isn't the genre I read most frequently, but I do enjoy it from time to time. And C. Lee McKenzie is absolutely great at writing these stories! I will read more of her books.

The scene with the Old Coast Highway and Dead Man's Curve had me pause to look those up. It's something that's mentioned in movies, tv shows, and even a song. So while the scene might not pull everyone out, it did for me because my mind was overcome with curiosity. (Not really a bad thing, just an experience.) (And if you click the above YouTube video, the song might get stuck in your head too.)

The book was realistic fiction. It did, for the most part, have happily-ever-after. There's a little romance, and perhaps a bit of a tear-jerker (depending on your experience). It's maybe somewhat controversial. If you realize that this could happen to you, it becomes a chilling thriller.  It's definitely meaningful. There are some diverse characters. And there is a layer of mystery as Devon works to prove his innocence. (I feel he's extremely lucky on how the scene at the farm ended up, because it could have been far worse.)

The title and cover do make sense. There is some cursing in the book. I do wonder, in Chapter Thirty-One, if it's supposed to be a Hershey bar, or if there's really a Hersey with nuts.

I enjoyed the order in which the book was told. Everything made sense and lined up. I could relate to Devon in that I've shared the experience of "being guilty" for everything that happens around me, even if there's no way I could have something to do with it. But, emotionally, I feel like he would have had it worse if he were from a different background. Life definitely wasn't easy for the characters in this book. It does hold several mirrors up to society in that it shows how we judge people once we decide they're guilty, and it shows how far and fast anyone can fall, and there's the mirror of how society will outcast anyone who stands with someone who society has found guilty. That last one is really hard to learn.

And now this happened. My reviews are on Goodreads, mybookpledge, and BookBub (when possible).

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#atozchallenge 2020 @JLenniDorner Blogging my Author Brand


  1. Sounds like it was a good book. The ones that make you question what you know are always the cleverest. It always amazes me how different readers read different things into stories as well.
    Tasha 💖
    Virginia's Parlour - The Manor (Adult concepts - nothing explicit in posts)
    Tasha's Thinkings - Vampire Drabbles

  2. That was one thorough review and I so appreciate the way you went through the book and characters. I'm glad Mia touched you with her situation. I felt for her, too, regardless of her "Miss Perfect" attitude or perhaps because of it. Sorry about misspelling Hershey.

    I'm recommending you be hired by the publisher as their top editor. Good luck with the rest of the alphabet. Only 13 more to go!

    1. I also considered you might have been going for a play on "hearsay," considering the subject matter. I live a very short drive from Hershey, so I've seen the word significantly more than most readers. Plus, I volunteered one summer, and one of my duties was putting the pink "It's a she" and blue "It's a he" wrappers over the Hershey bars for the new-mothers gift baskets. (That might also be something only done at hospitals around here.)

      I am glad you liked the review. I followed my own instructions. I am probably the person who likes my reference book the most, and that's okay. It means my reviews look good, and that makes me happy.

      Those, basically.

  3. Great review! If I liked reading YA drama, I would immediately read this one :-)

    An A-Z of Faerie: Merrows


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