Suicide Plunge, by Philip Arnold

“Suicide Plunge” was a very pleasant new adult novelette, with a good amount of drama, a healthy dose of natural wander to roam in and a likeable hero. It really made me want to try myself at horse riding once in my life and discover American wilderness. In fact, I couldn’t help but go on a forest walk after this book, even if I have nothing half as wild around myself right now.

The story is about Billy, a native American graduate, haunted by the disastrous loss his father cost his tribe in the local hard core horse race: the well named suicide hill race. This is the only way man can locally prove themselves, and everyone makes the betrayal weigh down on the already burdened shoulders of our hero.

The book touches on some sensitive subjects, but sadly doesn’t go much in depth, which is kind of normal for a novelette. I would have liked a little more digging into the psychology of each and more scenes showcasing relationships, especially between the father and son. The absence of the father makes sense, considering his “I gave up” attitude and that running away is his major feature, but we only get to “hear” about the relationship between the two and not witness much of it ourselves to make our own opinion.

Spoiler

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I kind of expected something a little different for the ending. I thought there was still a big mystery about the way the father lost the race for the tribe. The explanation that is given early on seemed too easy, and I didn’t take it at face value. This means I always expected a big reveal at the end, maybe I hoped for a redeeming of the father, and obviously was disappointed when it never came. I don’t know if the goal was to suggest we can never know such things, or that we were really meant to accept that the father botched it for a bribe. 

Same for the love interest, there is a little misunderstanding about her animal rights beliefs. And the way it is treated I thought this was a missed opportunity. I love relationships where people don’t always see eye to eye about their political or religious opinions, but they still make it work because they see beyond that, and accept the other person for what they are. It would have made more interesting conflict, and a nice life lesson, in my opinion.  

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End spoiler

All in all, I enjoyed my read even if it lacked a little conflict in the relationships for me. Then again, I know the limitations of shorter stories. I recommend the book to teens and all who like a good simple coming of age tale, who want to breathe in the scent of wild forests, know what it’s like to work hard or to be disappointed by parents but can see beyond betrayals, want to know about native American life and want to see people overcome life’s most terrible challenges. 

3.5 stars

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