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Fitz by Mick Cochrane

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Synopsis: Sometimes Fitz would look at himself in the mirror, an expression of pathetic eagerness on his face. He was a dog in the pound, wanting to be adopted. He'd smile. What father wouldn't want this boy?
 
Fifteen-year-old Fitzgerald—Fitz, to his friends—has just learned that his father, whom he's never met, who supports him but is not a part of his life, is living nearby. Fitz begins to follow him, watch him, study him, and on an otherwise ordinary May morning, he executes a plan to force his father, at gunpoint, to be with him.
 
Over the course of one spring day, Fitz and his father become real to one another. Fitz learns about his father, why he's chosen to remain distant, and what really happened between him and Fitz's mother. And his father learns what sort of boy his son has grown up to become.
 
Review: “A father. A son. And a gun,” is the phrase on the cover of Fitz by Mick Cochrane. This phrase describes a novel that is fast-paced, action-packed, and intensely emotional. Unfortunately, Fitz is none of these things.
 
This less than two hundred page novel takes place in one day: the first day that Fitz sees his father since he was a baby. Believing that his father will want nothing to do with him, Fitz brings a gun to his meeting with his father. He forces his father to spend time with him—tries to force his father to love him—by holding him at gunpoint.
 
A novel that starts like that should be written in first person, in present tense, and with a minimal amount of flashbacks. Fitz is written in third person, present tense and might spend more time in flashbacks than in present time. Since the flashbacks are all told in past tense, the changing tensing gets tiresome. I understand that backstory is necessary, but I wish it was told in a different way. The story needs to start with the gun, but it could have started with Fitz buying the gun (which is one of the many flashbacks) and thinking about why he needed to do so. If the backstory of Fitz’s absent father and his relationship with his mother was told at the beginning, then Fitz’s day with his father could actually be the focus of the story.
 
The flashbacks and past tense verbs took away the immediacy of the story, but I might have been able to get over that if the story was written in first person. So much of Fitz’s character was lost to the third person narration. The narrator does tell readers what Fitz is thinking, but Fitz’s thoughts would have been much better told if he was the one telling them. I could not really get into Fitz’s mind, and it drove me crazy.
 
Although Fitz’s character is not fully developed, I could really see his parents. I liked his mother’s love of old movies and how much she cares about her students and her son. I liked that Fitz was able to pull the person out of the lawyer when he was with his father.
 
Through these three characters, Mick Cochrane explores what it’s like when a child has only one parental figure. The ideas are there, but they are not explored to the extent that they could have been.
 
Reviewed by: Stephanie
 
Rating: 2/5 Diamonds
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