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Posted November 18, 2005
What if Harry Potter went to Columbine? The HAWKS Foundation would likely be the result of such an unusual juxtapostion. Alex Hutchinson starts his vivid storytelling with Before they were HAWKS the first book in this gritty series. Much like Harry Potter's friends the HAWKS are a teenage group of complex yet endearing characters, each with his own personal struggle. What makes them different from normal high school kids is a deep underlying angst that provokes a need for revenge. It is this part of the adolescent psyche that makes the story compelling. With the shadow of Columbine continuing to haunt parents across America, the author had the courage to give sincere examples that demonstrate how such extreme situations come to fruition. However, one needs not fret about exaggeration because Alex doesn't take their pain lightly. Don't expect to read about gang shootouts with automatic weapons or high-flying fights scenes. Set in a small town in Massachusetts in the late nineteen eighties the HAWKS clearly don't exist in a fiction world. Their challenges are easy to empathize with but a lack of parental guidance allows their violent reactions to become the real tragedy. The effect is that winner take all attitudes and extremist political policies like the never ending war on drugs are taken as mandates by naive high school students who have trouble telling the difference between fantasy and reality. Instead of 'just saying on' as Nancy Reagan had suggested, they set out to kill drug dealers as if it were a valid career choice. The result is a tale of teenagers walking a line between breaking the law and losing their sanity. Given such circumstances it's hard to imagine that any young mind would be able to escape undamaged. Stephen King had once written a book called RAGE that gave frightening images of violence in a high school. In later years it was found out that students who had performed similar acts in real life had read Stephen's book. It was the only novel he wished he had never published. Has Alex Hutchinson now tread down the same path? Understanding the world from the HAWKS perspective leaves the reader amazed that the horrifying events of Columbine aren't happening every day. While Hutchinson claims that these stories are based on his childhood experiences, we can only hope that his dark recollections were isolated incidents and not the start of a larger trend to come.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.