One for Sorrow was a very powerful book. The book is a ghost story, a coming of age story, and an exploration of the effects of bullying on adolescents. It is more than just that though.
I debated how to try to do it justice in a review; I really cannot since I am not that good of a writer. I decided the best way was to let Mr. Barzak's book literally speak for itself. The following passages touched me, or rather smacked me upside my head, to the point where I needed to write them down:
At one point in the story, the main character Adam is discussing how religion is viewed in his family. He starts by discussing his grandmother who he was close to.
"She was Catholic, but like in this really weird way apparently, which my mom says Catholics are in general because they tend to believe in a lot of magical stuff that she doesn't believe in, which to me isn't the smartest argument in the world because she has no proof there isn't magic in the world, she’s relying on an invisible faith that magic doesn't exist, which is the same thing in my opinion as having faith that it does."
Adam had scathing words for those people who ask how you are but really do not care nor wait for an answer.
"People traded words that meant nothing for more words that meant nothing, and you had to do it if you wanted to be considered a member of the group. . . .People say this stuff automatically, and how can words mean anything if you don’t think about saying them, if you don’t feel them as you are saying them?"
Before her death, Adam's grandmother had warned him that God's finger would point him out for sorrow if he was not careful. Adam, while crashing in a unused church, contemplates the statue of a crucified Jesus and compares Him to His Father.
"The thing I liked about Jesus was that he wasn't like his father. He didn't send storms or plagues or angels to destroy people’s lives or test their loyalty. He just loved everyone." . . ."Jesus didn't seem like the finger-pointing type. I would probably have gotten along with the guy."
The second to the last paragraph in the book contains the following lines:
"Right then I thought, You can live again. You can take the steps towards the finish line without too much fear or sadness. And even if you sometimes fell in the process of getting there, it didn't have to mean you were done for. It didn't have to mean you’d fallen from grace, but that maybe you’d had the grace to get back up again. To go toward it. To cross the finish line without knowing what come after."
They way that Mr. Barzak articulates how someone with depression struggles to just survive each day is incredible. I read those lines and they resonated with me personally. They resonated with where I am as an individual who has struggled with depression for over twenty years. It was almost as if Adam was sharing his struggle with me and in doing so giving me some of his strength.
I really have not done a very good job in expressing how wonderful and strong this book was. Please do not pass it up based on my poor writing. Please read the sections I included of Mr. Barzak's own words and then get the book. You will not be sorry. This is one book that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.