by Laurie Faria Stolarz
” I assume he must be on the run, hiding from someone maybe. His hands are in full view at his mouth; there appears to be something on one of his wrists. I edge out a little farther to take the shot.
My shutter clicks.
His head snaps up. “
Day Connor spends her life behind the camera, capturing life one click at a time. Her perspective is that of an artist, and while she tries her best to remain objective in her photographic studies of humans and their habits, her vision shifts when a curious subject crosses the path of her lens.
She’s enjoying a typical afternoon out with her best and most colorful girlfriends when she sees him. The handsome guy in the convenience store catches her eye, and not just because of his rugged good looks. He seems to have a dark cloud circling over his head; he’s shifty and uncomfortable in his own skin. In an attempt to move a little bit closer to study the object of her curiosity up close and personal, Day literally trips right into his strong arms, feeling an unexpected spark of. . . something. That hot current of electricity pushes her into following him out of the store and through the town. She watches as he rummages through garbage cans and she wonders about the cut on his face, at the way his clothes are ill-fitting and tattered. Snapping a few photos of him for later review, Day heads back home with questions filling her mind.
” There are more than fifty photos loaded up on my computer screen, old photos that I worked so hard to get, that capture vivid colors and/or play with things like natural and artificial light or macro-filters for magnification. They’re all so perfectly staged: the product of countless hours spent planning how I’d wanted things to look.
But what do they really say? They don’t show anything real. They only give the illusion of reality, which somehow feels dishonest. “
Julian is a teenager with a troubled background and an even sketchier present. Things at home were never the best, but after his twin brother was killed in a car accident, life with his unstable parents became nearly unbearable. The death infected his parents like a plague, winding its way through the ties that held them together and damaging them beyond repair. After a series of incidents with his volatile father and self-medicated mother led to the unimaginable, Julian found himself accused of murder and behind bars in a juvenile detention center with no one left to help him. But after some smart thinking and quick feet, he was able to escape, and now finds himself on the run from demons past and skeletons present.
The daughter of parents who have devoted their lives to human rights, Day grew up naturally giving people second chances, and she can’t help but try to see things from Julian’s perspective. When she finds him taking shelter in her barn, her heart goes out to him, and he certainly doesn’t look like a murderer — no matter what the local newspapers are spinning in their headlines. But as she slowly begins to piece together a shaky timeline with his side of the story, things become downright blurry. His tale has too many holes, it’s too out of focus, and there are some points she knows for certain that he’s just not speaking up about. What is Julian hiding? And is Day getting too involved with someone who may not be as innocent as he claims . . . putting herself in danger?
” I scoot in closer and take his hand again, forcing him to drop the stick, able to feel him trembling against my touch.
‘You don’t know what you’re doing,’ he says.
‘I do.’ I weave my fingers through his, able to feel that charging sensation again, pulsing through my veins, sending tingles all over my skin. ‘You don’t have to bury your pain anymore. You can tell it to me or whisper it to the stars.’
Julian looks up at the sky, perhaps making a wish on a star. I hope that’s what he’s doing for real. I hope I’ve given him a reason to be optimistic, because, aside from love, I can’t think of anything better. “
Shutter is a book by Laurie Faria Stolarz, a cemented talent in the Young Adult thriller genre. Known primarily for series such as The Blue is for Nightmare and The Touch, Stolarz has penned this stand-alone novel that reaches in and grabs you from the first few pages, keeping your head spinning and your gut twisting until the conclusion. Featuring relatable characters and a free-flowing plot line, Shutter cleverly touches on real-life teen challenges such as divorce, appropriate romance, complicated friendships, and emotional changes while weaving in the mystery and intelligent thrills that are the heart of the story.
Stolarz has a finger on the pulse of teenage angst and the mental struggles that particular age group goes through, and the way things are handled are believable instead of predictable. The main character of Day Connor is smart and clear-headed, and I was impressed with her determination to give the benefit of the doubt in a situation that on the surface, spelled out nothing but trouble. Giving the book 4 out of 5 stars, I regret that I couldn’t give it a solid 5. There were a few spurred plot lines that I did not understand concerning Day’s friends, and I felt did not belong as they bogged the real story down and shifted the focus unnecessarily. I also wished there was a bit more resolution in the ending, and I was disappointed that the budding romance between Julian and Day seemed to stall.
I do recommend Shutter to readers ages 13+. It is an appropriate thriller and full of approachable topics for that age bracket. Readers who enjoyed books such as Danya Kukafka’s Girl in Snow or Sheryl Scarborough’s To Catch A Killer will appreciate and enjoy the frantic and gripping essence of Shutter.