Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction that Changed America

The first thing you should learn about me is that I'm a forensic psychology student. Therefore, there will be a lot of true crime and psychology books reviewed by me in addition to fiction and whatever other genres I end up reading. That being said, the first review I'm doing is gonna be on Les Standiford's Bringing Adam Home, which I finished late last night. As a bookseller, I'm privy to getting advanced copies of books from publishers, so don't get too excited about buying this book, since it won't be out until at least March 1st.

This book was very well written and informative, but was paced in such a way that I wasn't bored with the facts and the dry material. If anyone isn't already familiar with the story, six year old Adam Walsh was abducted in 1981 while shopping with his mother Revé in a Sears in Hollywood, Florida. After two agonizing weeks of searching and praying for the best, his parents were given the horrifying news that his remains (read: head) were found dumped in a canal. Thus began 25 years of searching for Adam Walsh's killer, and bringing him to justice.

Standiford's novel introduces the major players of the case, including Det. Sgt. Joe Matthews and Det. Jack Hoffman, as well as the main suspects Jimmy Campbell (a longtime friend of the Walsh family), Henry Lee Lucas, and Ottis Toole (lovers, and both convicted murderers who died while in prison). This novel points out all of the flaws and mistakes made by the police departments and detectives who narrow-mindedly ignored telltale evidence and confessions pointing to Toole as the murderer, the witnesses who never stepped forward until realizing, years later, that justice had never been served on the case, and the Walsh's sublimation, turning their grief over losing their son into becoming politically active, and helping the nation recognize crimes against children as a major concern. 

It is astonishing to think that 30 years ago, there was no Code Adam, no Amber alert, not even a national database of missing children. In fact, it was easier to find a stolen car than a kidnapped child! Thanks to John and Revé, these programs are finally in place, and helping more and more families reunite with their missing or abducted children.

This story is heart-wrenching, but shows just how important it can be to channel one's grief or pain into a more useful outlet. At the risk of being cliché and supporting the 'books/movies are successful if the characters overcome some trial or tribulation' theme currently rampant in today's society (think "I am Sam", "A Simple Mind", "The Blind Side", and so on), I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. Hopefully, Standiford continues writing true crime novels about such significant events as this. As for a favorite quote, well...
It's like you've been in a terrible accident and had your arm amputated... After a while, the pain goes away, and eventually you even learn to get along without your arm. Some days you're sad that you're missing your arm, and some days you're angry about it, and some days you're okay. But, no matter what, no matter how long it's been, you never stop missing your arm.
p. 278, Revé Walsh to Joe Matthews. 

Whew! Well, there you have it. My first 'printed' book review. Let me know what you think; I'll use suggestions for future reviews. And as always, if you have new book suggestions, I'm always interested in finding a good book to read!

- Justin

Ramblings of a Baby Daddy

Welp, I've finally done it! Finally decided to start a blog dedicated to my literary conquests, and allowing me to 1) get my opinion out of my head and onto 'paper', and 2) stop forgetting which books I've read, and which I've only read a part or two of. There are an infinite number of books out there, and while I'm obviously never going to read all of them (nor would I want to), I'm going to try expanding my literary horizons and exposing myself to new topics and book genres.

This first blog is not going to review a book, because I need to decide which book I've read recently is worthy enough of being 'officially' reviewed first, but I'll probably have one up by the end of the week. There's definitely going to be no method to the madness, and I'll review books I either just finished reading, or popped into my head and I feel should get a review. I'm really excited about getting this blog underway, so whoever's out there, let me know what you think of my reviews!