Finding Jake

Finding Jake

4.5 49
by Bryan Reardon

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“I devoured Finding Jake. The tension is almost unbearable in this thriller-cum-character study as layer after layer of a father’s soul are revealed as reflected in the character of his missing son. Utterly engrossing.”—Alice LaPlante, New York Times bestselling author of Circle of Wives and Turn of Mind



“I devoured Finding Jake. The tension is almost unbearable in this thriller-cum-character study as layer after layer of a father’s soul are revealed as reflected in the character of his missing son. Utterly engrossing.”—Alice LaPlante, New York Times bestselling author of Circle of Wives and Turn of Mind

Simon Connolly’s successful wife has gone to her law office each day, while he has stayed home to raise their children—Jake and Laney. He has tried to do the best for the kids. For sunny, outgoing Laney, it’s been easy. But Jake is different. He has always been on the quiet side, preferring the company of his small group of friends to popularity and organized sports. Now that his children are in high school, Simon should be able to relax, to worry less. He’s never given that chance.

On a warm November day, he receives a text: There has been a shooting at the high school.

Racing to the rendezvous point, Simon is forced to wait with scores of other anxious parents as one by one, they are reunited with their children. Their numbers dwindle, eventually leaving Simon alone. That is when he learns that Jake is the only child missing.

As his worst nightmare unfolds, Simon’s thoughts race. Where is Jake? What happened in those final moments? Jake could not have done this—or could he? Did Simon miss the signs? As rumors begin to ricochet, amplified by an invasive media and the fear swallowing their community, Simon must find answers.

But there is only one way to understand what has happened . . . he must find Jake.

“Harrowing.” —New York Times Book Review

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review on FINDING JAKE
“FINDING JAKE tells the harrowing tale of a deadly school shooting from a father’s perspective… The suspense is killing, but it’s nothing compared with this father’s anguish as he tries to find his son - the real boy, not the one he thought he knew.”
Alice LaPlante
“I devoured FINDING JAKE. The tension is almost unbearable in this thriller-cum-character study as layer after layer of a father’s soul are revealed as reflected in the character of his missing son. Utterly engrossing.”
Alison Gaylin
“FINDING JAKE is compelling psychological suspense — but also so much more. A journey into the depths of a parent’s worst nightmare, it is at turns heartbreaking, surprising, devastating, hopeful... I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time to come.”
Paula Daly
Finding Jake is truly compelling. I read it in one sitting, tearing through the pages right to the unexpected ending - which stayed with me for days.
Publishers Weekly
Early in Reardon’s moving, if at times maudlin first novel, Simon Connolly receives word of a shooting at the suburban Delaware high school attended by his two children. But worse news awaits: the police suspect his missing 17-year-old son, Jake, of being one of the gunmen. As Simon and wife Rachel, a workaholic corporate attorney, try to push aside the strains in their marriage to confront the unimaginable as a family, he can’t help revisiting key moments in his son’s life. Simon obsesses over what role his social awkwardness and his decision to be a stay-at-home dad might have played in the tragedy. Could he really have been so grievously wrong about what kind of boy he was raising? Although some of Simon’s memories turn teary, Reardon (Ready, Set, Play!, a sports book with retired NFL player Mark Schlereth) deftly builds suspense by setting his dual story lines on a collision course toward a shattering—and surprising—conclusion. Agent: Stephanie Rostan, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (Feb.)
School Library Journal
Simon is a stay-at-home dad whose life changes when he gets an emergency text from his children's high school: there has been a shooting, and all parents are requested to assemble at the church near the school. Simon watches tensely as the teens arrive and are reunited with their parents. His daughter shows up, but not his son, Jake. Soon word emerges that there were two shooters, one a boy named Doug. He has always been strange, but Jake, following Simon's advice, has treated Doug kindly. The police believe that Jake was Doug's accomplice. Over the next few days, he and his wife Rachel must cope with angry neighbors, predatory media, and suspicious police as they attempt to find out where Jake is and what really happened. The protagonist thinks back over his son's life, trying to see if his memories of Jake's relationships with his sister, friends, and parents carry any clues to the current tragedy. Alternating between these flashbacks and Simon's actions following the shooting, this is a look at one family's response to a harrowing experiences. VERDICT Pulse-pounding, gut-wrenching, and heartbreaking, this fast-paced thriller will appeal to teens who enjoyed Tim Johnston's Descent (Algonquin, 2015).—Sarah Flowers, formerly of Santa Clara County Public Library, CA.
Kirkus Reviews
A father hears about a shooting incident at his son's high school—and then finds his son is one of the suspected killers.Simon Connolly is the anguished father and narrator in this psychological thriller by Reardon. Through chapters that more or less alternate between the present (the three-week period following the shooting) and the past (his son's childhood), we get a dual perspective and wonder along with Simon whether Jake is indeed capable of such an atrocity. Simon's anguish is particularly acute because he was a stay-at-home dad, taking care of both Jake and his younger sister, Laney, while Rachel, their mom, supported the family as a lawyer. When the news about the shooting breaks, parents rush to a local church to be reunited with their children, but Jake doesn't turn up. Instead, it becomes clear from both the police and the media that Jake might have been involved along with his friend, a loner named Doug Martin-Klein, who was found at the school, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. As names of the shooting victims become known, Simon quickly becomes a pariah for agonized parents convinced Jake was responsible for killing their children. A rift opens between Simon and Rachel as well because he's not sure whether he can believe in Jake's innocence. He reviews incidents from Jake's past—encounters with a school guidance counselor, play dates with Doug—that might (or might not) be significant. A compelling read; disturbingly relevant in contemporary America.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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7.90(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Bryan Reardon is a freelance writer specializing in medical communications. He co-wrote Ready, Set, Play! with retired NFL player and ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth, and Cruel Harvest with Fran Elizabeth Grubb. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Bryan worked for the state of Delaware for more than a decade, starting in the office of the governor. He lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania, with his wife, kids, and rescue dog, Simon.

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Finding Jake 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
UndercoverBookReviews More than 1 year ago
I truly believe that this is a book that every person should read! Without giving any spoilers... This book will have you losing sleep just to keep reading, will have you on edge needing more. And will have you thinking of who you are, how you cope. An amazing read! *Received for an honest review*
Twink More than 1 year ago
3.5/5  We've all read the horrendous stories and watched the news footage - shootings at schools.... Bryan Reardon's new novel, Finding Jake uses a school shooting as a starting point for his book. Simon is a stay at home dad to Laney and Jake, while his wife heads out to her job as a lawyer each day. One fateful day, there is a shooting at the children's high school. Simon rushes to the school and anxiously waits to be reunited with his kids. Laney is fine, but Simon is the last parent waiting - and Jake is the only child missing. The suspected shooter was a loner, with Jake being his only friend. Simon has had many doubts about his parenting skills over the years. He found it hard to mix in with the stay at home moms in the neighbourhood. He projected many of his own fears and insecurities on his children. Laney seemed to be unaffected, but Jake is a quiet child, preferring his own company. As he waits for new, Simon relives Jake's life - from a baby to the young man he is today. And Simon's doubts, questions, self-recriminations, fears and anxieties about himself, his role as a parent, his childrearing abilities and his son are laid bare on the page. How well does he know his child? Where is Jake? His body was not inside the school - where could he be? Is he alive? Could he possibly be involved? What more could he have to protect his child? What did he do wrong? Everything we learn is from Simon's point of view. It is as much a search for who is son his as it is a self exploration of himself as a father, husband and person. Despite his self realization, I found it hard to like Simon. As Simon's memories progress through the years, the picture we have of Jake changes. The ending was not at all predictable, though unsettling. I found the back and forth between the past and present quite addictive. Reardon's prose have such a ring of authenticity to them - he eloquently articulates the fears we all harbour as parents. Reardon himself left an office job to stay home with his twin newborns.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book makes me look at the shy a little differently, thank you for that. Jake is a boy we all know. One we feel is unapproachable and non social. However, after reading this book my eyes have opened as well as my heart. Jake is a hero.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It made me cry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best written books I have read, I actually felt like I needed to turn on the evening news to see the outcome of the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Drew me in immediately.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book I couldn't put it down . it really made me think about how I am raising my own children.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of those book,you can't put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book!!! Was hesitant at first but it is really good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great stoty,we'll written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finding Jake is a great book! I couldn't put it down. Bryan Reardon's thrilling tale of a community in crisis provides a very timely commentary with well written dialogue and an easy flow that immediately brings you into the story. I highly recommend this book. It is told in a thoughtful, caring way that will surprise and entice with a full range of emotions. One of my top 10. Read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't normally write reviews but this was an excellent book. The writing was fantastic and brought out emotions as a parent that I thought were only in my head. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written from a father's point of view concerning his son and a high school shooting. Jodie Picoult's "Nineteen Minutes" has basically the same plot,, but a totally different prospective. Worth checking out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had me guessing until the end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Super good read. Sometimes the flashbacks were a little drawn out and boring, but the actual story line was amazing. It made me want to fly through the flashbacks just to figure out what happened next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story line seemed appealing. Author took on a serious problem. The writing was sappy and trite! Not well done
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written and haunting. I could not put this book down from the very beginning. Cried. My heart ached for Simon and i never really cared for Rachel, but Laney was cute. The characters were real and it felt like i was right there. Thank you
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
Told in alternating chapters, I was more inquisitive about what was going to transpire in this novel than the suspense that I originally thought this novel would hold. I think it had something to do with the chapters being broken up with the current events being told and then in the next chapter, we flashed back to Jake’s childhood. There has been a shooting at the high school where Jake and his sister attend; all the parents have been notified via text. Jake’s father, being a stay-at-home father, immediately heads to the high school where he is diverted to an adjacent church to await further instructions. He immediately feels outnumbered as all the other mothers gather and the flashbacks to Jake’s childhood begin. These flashbacks are important to the novel, as they paint a portrait of Jake and his family. The high school students slowly trickle into the church where they are united with their parents, including Jake’s sister where she is ushered home with her mother. Jake’s father is the only one remaining. Jake is missing and the rumors start flying. The gunman is down but an accomplice was seen fleeing the scene of the crime. They say it was Jake. Is there evidence to back this up? Is this just heresy? The guilt is eating at Jake’s father as he wonders, where did he go wrong, as he replays Jake’s childhood in his mind. His father is troubled, the guilt is eating at him, there is no writing on the wall as I read the words the author left for us, yet I am searching for the answer. I need to know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In short order Reardon engages the reader. If you have ever explored the elements of "literary fiction," you will discover "Finding Jake" as one of the best examples offered in 2015!  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beginning from the first chapter this novel moves very quickly into the complexity of raising to children. In addition it explores the non traditional arrangement of having a father as the stay at home parent.  Its a great read and I'm looking forward to his next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bryan Reardon knows how to put guy thoughts into words!! For men who embrace their roles as husband and dad, you will be shocked on how well this writer conveys our thoughts and feelings. A must read. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I finished this book in one day, which, given my busy schedule, says a lot for the story. It had me hooked from the first page. There will be many people who compare this book to other books about school shootings, but I honestly don't see how a comparison can be made. This is a unique story about a stay at home dad, Simon, and his deep thoughts, astute observations and never-ending concerns surrounding the upbringing of his children, his marriage, and his inner battle about the parental role he has chosen to take. Most importantly, the book is about his fierce love for his family, specifically focusing on his son.  It is realistic and honest. It is both heart wrenching and heart warming. This book left me in tears and the story has been on my mind since I finished it two days ago. Bravo to Bryan Reardon on his debut novel! I will be waiting first in line to read the next!
Anonymous 5 months ago
I have raised 4 grown children and this book reinforced how very grateful I am to have escaped such tradgedy. There are so many different influences pulling on our kids. Thanks for giving me a new perspective on things that have and haven't happened to me.