Inexcusable (10th Anniversary Edition)

Inexcusable (10th Anniversary Edition)

by Chris Lynch

Paperback(Anniversary Edition)

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Date rape—from the accused’s point of view—is the subject of this “finely crafted and thought-provoking page-turner” (SLJ), a National Book Award Finalist from Printz Honor–winning author Chris Lynch. Now available in a tenth-anniversary edition.

Keir Sarafian may not know much, but he knows himself. And the one thing he knows about himself is that he is a good guy. A guy who’s a devoted son and brother, a loyal friend, and a reliable teammate. And, maybe most important of all, Keir is a guy who understands that when a girl says no, she means it.

But that is not what Gigi Boudakian, childhood friend and Keir’s lifelong love, says at all. What Gigi says seems impossible to Keir—something inexcusable—the worst thing he can imagine, the very opposite of everything he wants to be.

As Keir recalls the events leading up to his fateful night with Gigi, he realizes that the way things look are definitely not the way they really are…and that it may be all too easy for a good guy to do something terribly wrong.

Chris Lynch has written a no-holds-barred story about truth, lies, and responsibility—a story that every good guy needs to hear.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481432023
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 01/13/2015
Edition description: Anniversary Edition
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 810L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Chris Lynch is the Printz Honor Award–winning author of several highly acclaimed young adult novels, including Printz Honor Book Freewill, Iceman, Gypsy Davy, and Shadow Boxer—all ALA Best Books for Young Adults—as well as Killing Time in Crystal City, Little Blue Lies, Pieces, Kill Switch, Angry Young Man, and Inexcusable, which was a National Book Award finalist and the recipient of six starred reviews. He holds an MA from the writing program at Emerson College. He teaches in the Creative Writing MFA program at Lesley University. He lives in Boston and in Scotland.

Read an Excerpt


  • The way it looks is not the way it is.

    Gigi Boudakian is screaming at me so fearsomely, I think I could just about cry. I almost don’t even care what the subject is because right now I am sick and I am confused and I am laid so low by the very idea that Gigi Boudakian is screaming at me that the what-for hardly seems even to matter. I love Gigi Boudakian. I hate it when people I love scream at me.

    And I don’t feel guilty. That is, I don’t feel like I am guilty. But I sure as hell feel sorry.

    I am sorry.

    I am one sorry sorry bastard. And I feel very sick.

    I am so sorry.

    “What are you sorry for, Keir?” Gigi screams again, grabbing me by where my lapels would be if I had a jacket on, or a shirt, or anything. She can’t get a purchase because I have no clothes, and very little fat, because I have been good about my health lately. She grabs, can’t grab, scratches instead at my chest, then slaps me hard across the face, first right side then left, smack, smack.

    “Say what you did, Keir.”

    “Why is Carl coming? Why do you have to call Carl, Gigi?”

    “Say what you did, Keir. Admit what you did to me.”

    “I didn’t do anything, Gigi.”

    “Yes you did! I said no!”

    I say this very quietly, but firmly. “You did not.”

    “I said no,” she growls. “Say it.”

    “I don’t see why you need Carl. You can beat me up just fine on your own. Listen, Gigi, it was nobody’s fault.”

    “Yes it was! It was your fault. This should not have happened.”

    “Fine, then it didn’t.”

    “It did, it did, it did, bastard! For me it did, and it’s making me sick.”

    “Don’t. Don’t be sick. I don’t want you to be sick or anything. I just want everything to be all right. Everything is all right, Gigi. Please, can everything be all right?”

    “It is not all right! It is not all right, and you are not all right, Keir Sarafian. Nothing is all right. Nothing will ever again ever be all right.”

    She is wrong. Gigi is wrong about everything, but especially about me. You could ask pretty much anybody and they will tell you. Rock solid, Keir. Kind of guy you want behind you. Keir Sarafian, straight shooter. Loyal, polite. Funny. Good manners. He was brought up right, that boy was, is what you would hear. All the things you would want to hear said about you are the things I have always heard said about me. I am a good guy.

    Good guys don’t do bad things. Good guys understand that no means no, and so I could not have done this because I understand, and I love Gigi Boudakian.

    “I love you, Gigi.”

    As I say this, Gigi Boudakian lets out the most horrific scream I have ever heard, and I am terrified by it and reach out, lunge toward her and try and cover her mouth with my hands and I fall over her and she screams louder and bites at my hands and I keep flailing, trying to stop that sound coming out of her and getting out into the world.

    I am only trying to stop the sound. It looks terrible what I am doing, as I watch my hands doing it, as I watch hysterical Gigi Boudakian reacting to me, and it looks really, really terrible but I am only trying to stop the awful sound and the way it looks is not the way it is.

    The way it looks is not the way it is.

  • Reading Group Guide

    A SIMON PULSE Guide for Reading
    By Chris Lynch

    Keir Sarafian declares that he is innocent of raping Gigi Boudakian. But that's not how Gigi sees it. Polluted with alcohol and high on drugs, Keir shows up at a graduation party where Gigi is brooding over her boyfriend's absence. The two leave the party together and wind up in a room all alone on a college campus three hours away. As Keir tells his story, he repeats "the way it looks is not the way it is." But Keir loses credibility as he relates past events of his senior year: a football accident when he crippled another player, acts of vandalism after a football and soccer breakup party, and late night drinking binges with his father. Through it all, Keir dismisses his bad behavior and attempts to convince his readers and himself that he is a good guy. But "good guys don't do bad things," and Keir Sarafian appears disconnected, angry, and in total denial of any of his violent actions. Is he guilty of date rape? Does he live up to the nickname "killer" that he earned on the football field? Can he admit that his father hasn't been good for him? Will he ever accept responsibility for his inexcusable behavior or is he totally deluded?
    The media is filled with stories about teenage crime and innocent pranks that turned bad. School violence, date rape, and illegal drug and alcohol use are common behaviors reported, but there are others. Read the newspaper for a week and collect stories that in your mind represent inexcusable behavior on the part of an adolescent. Share the stories with one another, and discuss what might be going on inside the head of the accused.
    There are numerous attempts to censor books that young adults read, especially those that deal with sex and violence. Discuss why adults feel so threatened by teenagers' desire to read about these subjects. How might a book help a teenager deal with all that goes on inside and around them? Prepare a convincing remark to a parent who might object to these ideas.
    Keir Sarafian, the narrator of the novel, begins his story by saying, "The way it looks is not the way it is." How does this statement set the tone for the entire book? Who is he trying to convince of his innocence? Himself, the reader, or both? How does Keir prove to be an unreliable narrator? At what point in the novel does this become obvious?
    When Gigi Boudakian accuses Keir of raping her, he says, "I don't feel like I am guilty. But I sure as hell feel sorry." What is the difference between feeling guilty and feeling sorry? Keir clearly has a crush on Gigi. Discuss whether he feels that "loving" Gigi justifies his behavior. Is there a moment in the book when you feel Keir isn't guilty? Why?
    In your opinion, is there any point in the story where you feel Gigi is at fault? Do you ever think the sex was consensual, and if so, why? Explain your position.
    How much were the drugs a factor in what happened that night? Do you think they absolve Keir of his responsibility?
    Describe Keir's struggle with self-image. Debate whether his self-image changes when he accepts the nickname "killer." How does Gigi perceive a relationship between Keir's nickname and his behavior? Social workers and psychologists who work in prisons often refer to the poor self-image of criminals. How might this be especially true with sex offenders?
    After the football accident, Keir says, "I didn't cripple a guy. He got crippled, and I was part of it. The difference is very important." How is this comment devoid of any feeling for the victim? Keir tells his sisters that he isn't going to apologize to the guy because he didn't do anything wrong. Discuss whether an apology would be an admission of guilt. What do Mary and Fran realize about the situation that Keir cannot admit? Keir says, "I hate it when people I love condemn me." Debate whether his sisters are condemning him or trying to help him.
    Describe Keir's relationship with his father. How does he contribute to Keir's inexcusable behavior? Explain what Fran means when she tells Keir, "I have to love Ray from a distance. He's not healthy for me. He's not healthy for you." There is only one scene in the novel when Keir calls Ray "Dad." What is the significance of this scene?
    Keir really likes being liked, but he doesn't want to be buddies with anyone, because that requires involvement. Discuss whether this unwillingness to become involved contributes to his violent behavior. Do you think Keir would have raped Gigi had he been more involved with her?
    Keir declines his father's offer to throw him a graduation party and instead chooses an all-night limo ride. How does the limo ride allow him to celebrate the evening from the outside? How is this consistent with his other behaviors? Describe Keir's arrival at Quarterback Ken's house. How is he playing into his "killer" role at the party?
    At the beginning and throughout the novel, Keir refers to himself as a good guy. Why does he need for others to validate his good-guy image? When is this especially evident? Keir looks at the videotape of the soccer breakup party and comments, "I saw a good guy there. The film saw other things, entirely." What is the significance of this scene? Is this an attempt to resolve the reality of the situation? Discuss whether he feels guilty or sorry after viewing the film.
    At the end of the book, Keir talks about his "two hearts." What do you think he means by this? Explain your answer.
    Chris Lynch raises questions about the athletic culture in high schools. How do coaches and the pressure to win contribute to a "boys will be boys" attitude? In Keir's high school, the underclassmen take blame for the vandalism committed by the senior football and soccer players. Where are the adults when this occurs?
    Anger, fear, loneliness, and a feeling of isolation are some of the emotions that Keir experiences. Which of these emotions are the most apparent? Discuss the relationship between anger and fear, and between loneliness and isolation. How does Keir allow his emotions to destroy his life? What advice can you offer a teenager who is on the brink of self-destruction?
    What advice might Gigi offer teenage girls about date rape?
    At graduation, Keir says, "Everything right now had the feeling of lasts, finishes, of playing out for good, forever." What do you think of Keir's finish? Debate whether he is changed forever.
    Discuss whether there is an underground social culture at most high schools. What is the basis of the culture? How tough is it for teenagers who don't belong to the culture? Discuss how such a culture is in conflict with the academic purpose of high school.
    There are three common predator drugs: Rohypnol, Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate, and Ketamine Hydrochloride. Find out the street names for these drugs, how they affect the body, and how you can protect yourself from these drugs.
    Date rape has become so prevalent on college campuses that many institutions conduct seminars for students on the topic. Hold an open discussion forum on date rape. Invite social workers, psychologists, and student services personnel from a nearby college or university to participate in the discussion.

    Customer Reviews

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    Inexcusable 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Chris Lynch¿s book Inexcusable is a powerful novel about some of the choices that males may need to make in modern day high school. Keir is a senior who lives with his widowed father Ray. Throughout his life he has always been told by his loved ones what a good guy he is. Then an event changes his life. In a football game he blocks a guy from the other team and somehow cripples him. Now he is named Killer Keir. His popularity is rising now and with it he begins to make very poor choices. He goes to parties where there is drinking and drug use, he vandalizes the school, and plays a horrible prank on the school¿s soccer team. He lives in denial of it all, justifying himself as a good guy who would never do those things. However, these choices lead up to this one event that is indeed inexcusable.

    This is a very good book that really puts the importance of good friends and making wise choices into perspective. This is a great read for both genders because many boys will be able to relate to Keir in some way, and girls will probably know someone exactly like Keir. This book does contain some language. However, it is no different than what you would hear if you actually walked into a high school.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone in high school. It captures your attention right away and you won¿t be able to put it down. It doesn¿t take that long to read and is well worth your time.
    stephanie1675 More than 1 year ago
    it really maKES you think about the one you love. about making sure you truely know the ones you love. it catches your attention and its hard to put down. you want to see what happens next and how things turn out.
    TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
    Keir is a good guy. He's about to graduate from high school and follow his older sisters to college. The reader will admire the closeness of his family: the father, a widower who has raised his three children alone; the son who adores his older sisters. Yes, Keir is a good guy.

    When an opposing football player is gravely injured as a result of Keir's perfect tackle, we believe Keir. It's not his fault. He's a good guy. Right?

    The reader will wonder, along with Keir, if it was really possible that he's been a part of the vandalism of a local monument. And surely Keir, a spring soccer player himself, would never have contributed to the football teams' severe hazing of his teammates after the soccer banquet.

    When his sister's aren't able to attend his graduation, the reader empathizes with his feelings of betrayal. We understand his need to let loose on the night of his graduation and feel concern as he faces troubling choices. We feel hopeful when Gigi, the girl of his dreams, leans on him when her boyfriend stands her up. Just like Keir's sisters.

    The evening becomes a kaleidoscope of emotions, which result in risky behavior, a three-hour limo ride across the state line, a visit to his college, and a night with Gigi. Keir's a good boy. He would never commit the inexcusable...would he?

    I read this book all the way through in one sitting. It was riveting. INEXCUSABLE by Chris Lynch is a glimpse into a boy walking a blurred line into manhood. This is a must read for any young man who has ever been, or ever expects to be, in love.
    RosanaSantana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Keir is a good guy. Everybody loves him. There was just that one incident on the football field, but everyone knows he was just doing his job. So why is his best friend accusing him? Difficult to read due to the main characters disgusting personality.
    harrisw4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Inexcusable is about a teen named Keir and how he rationalizes the decisions he has made in his life. He gives excuse after excuse of all of the horrible decisions he has made. He tries to describe how he is a great person and that he doesn¿t understand how other people could have a different opinion of him. His two older sisters are in college. He lives with his Dad and this plays an important role in the story.
    owensmj on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    When recent high school graduate and star football player Keir rapes his childhood friend, he is forced to reexamine his self-image as a "good guy", which had never before questioned.Keir's situation and perception of himself is probably relateable on some level to most young adults. Most people either know a "popular jock" type of person or are one themselves, and I think most everyone has at some pointed wanted to be liked by the crowd, or by a special person.
    tyuiop159 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Once you read the summery, that's it you're have to read the whole book. Inexcusable was one of the best coming-of-age books I've ever read. Chris Lynch's unique writing style keeps you turning to the next page.
    lilibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Keir is a high school football player who has trouble seeing the consequences of his actions. He's a football player, and a good guy - and sometimes the way it looks is not the way it his. He loves Gigi, so he can't have hurt her. Right?
    JRlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Keir knows he could not have done something so inexcusable as rape. As Keir recounts the events, there is a darker side that casts doubt on his innocence. The voice of the narrator does a great job illustrating Keir's bewilderment. Lynch has made Keir seem confused. The reader wants to like Keir. This book would be a great one to pair with Speak by Anderson.
    BookDrops on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This novel attempts to address several very serious issues including parental and teen alcoholism and the atrocity of date rape at its worst. Unfortunately, while it presents these topics for discussion, it does not present the complexity or true pain of these issues well. The plot is very thin and characters, even the antihero, is not well developed. The whole story seems contrived, not that any of it could be untrue, but because binding elements seem to be missing. I would recommend this book to teens who have already crossed lines and are hanging on the edge of making criminal-type life-altering decisions. This book is harsh enough, and disconnected enough that it may reach this group of readers and readers who have already crossed those lines. I would not recommend this book to the majority of readers because they may not grasp the intensity of the situation. Due to the repeated claims of the anti-heroes conscience, the unreliable narrator of much of the book, readers may believe that he is the "good guy" he believes he is.
    knitwit2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A short read, with a weighty message. Keir is certain that he is a "good guy". He is also an alcoholic, and short on a conscience. He is the master of rationalizations, sadly his behavior can't always be explained away.
    LynneVS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I know what the author named this boy, but I could have put other names in because I've met too many people who were never held accountable for their actions! This book is a great story and a vivid portrayal of what can happen when kids are given too many excuses and free passes.
    msjackson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    What a twist! Keir, the narrator of this short tragedy leads the reader to believe that he is the "good guy"... Until he commits the inexcusable crime. He is the popular guy in school who has earned a reputation as a "killer" on the football field. His peers like him and his dad aka "best friend" loves him but enables his predatory behavior.
    chibimajo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Not quite what I thought it'd be based on the rumors. Keir is a "good guy", that's what he's always been told. He has a close relationship with his father and 2 older sisters, he's involved in both football and soccer at school, his grades aren't stellar, but he gets by. But Gigi claims that she raped him. Keir knows he's a good guy, so he can't possibly have done this horrible thing to Gigi, and he just needs to make her understand that. So the book traces back through glimpses of the past year of his life, showing the events, as seen through Keir's eyes, that led up to this night. Spoilers would show why this book did not turn out how I had thought, but it still left me anxious to read it. The conflicting viewpoints of events as seen through Keir's head are very interesting.
    ealaindraoi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This is not an easy novel to read, but it's very interesting to read the other side of a story. Keir is revealed as a character slowly. The other characters, like his father Ray and his older sisters and Gigi, his childhood friend are well drawn and are also revealed slowly. The writing is poetic in quality, with Keir describing the atmosphere at various points in time beautifully. Besides the difficult subject matter, the only downside is the flipping between time points can be confusing. As soon as I finished the book, I went back and re-read the future segments and it all made a lot more sense.An excellent companion book for Laurie Anderson's Speak.
    MarieCoady on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This book stayed with me for a long time. All about perspective, intent, inner life and outward actions. What do we honestly acknowledge about ourselves? Do others see you the way you see yourself?
    francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This is a harrowing account of a rape, from the rapist's point of view. As Keir tells us the story of his life leading up to his night with Gigi, we come to realise that he is a master of self-delusion.This is a raw look at the little justifications and excuses a person can make for their behaviour, as small inconsiderate deeds build up to horrific actions.(spoilers)I am bothered by the ending - it seems that to the very last moment, Keir fails to take responsibility for his past actions.
    Tatiana_G on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I've seen this book recommended as a companion novel to Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak and really, the main character of Inexcusable, Keir, could have easily been IT.The novel starts with Keir's friend, Gigi, screaming at him, accusing him of rape.I am so sorry."What are you sorry for, Keir?" Gigi screams again, grabbing me by where my lapels would be if I had a jacket on, or a shirt, or anything. She can't get a purchase because I have no clothes, and very little fat, because I have been good about my health lately. She grabs, can't grab, scratches instead at my chest, then slaps me hard across the face, first right side then left, smack, smack."Say what you did, Keir.""Why is Carl coming? Why do you have to call Carl, Gigi?""Say what you did, Keir. Admit what you did to me.""I didn't do anything, Gigi.""Yes you did! I said no!"I say this very firmly. "You did not."You see, according to Keir, the way it looks is not the way it is. How can he, an upstanding guy, a great son and brother, rape anybody? It's just impossible, because he is a good guy. Gigi must have gotten it all wrong, misunderstood him and he will do his best to convince her she made a mistake.What follows is your (a)typical "unreliable narrator" story. When Keir starts describing some events of his senior year leading up to the fateful evening, we see that maybe he has a bit of a skewed image of himself, maybe even a lot skewed? Maybe his dad is not such a great role model? Maybe his sisters are not that supportive?Inexcusable, it seems, gets some heat in the reviews for focusing on an unlikable main character who doesn't realize what is wrong with him. I never have a problem with this sort of thing. Such stories (The Spectacular Now and You) I enjoy, it's always interesting to get into a twisted person's head IMO. What I wish though is that the novel were a little longer. I think there is much more to explore in Keir's life and his relationships with his family and friends. Otherwise, it Inexcusable is a strong, thought-provoking, but not necessarily feel-good novel for young adults.
    ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Keir is a guy who claims to have two heartbeats, as if there are competing beings within him. At the beginning of the book, Keir show us a side of himself that seems as if maybe he has been falsely accused of rape or there has been some sort of misunderstanding. As more and more things about him are revealed, like his use of alcohol and drugs, participation in vandalism, and hazing of other students within the school, it becomes apparent that Keir is not necessarily the good guy he claims to be. Keir is quick to label the actions of others as inexcusable, but he is not willing to put that mirror up to his own behavior. The story is told in alternating chapters, giving snipets of the aftermath of the rape with Gigi and giving more exposition about Keir.
    Caitlove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Very hard to read. And after rape she like still talked to him, like it was no big deal. Gives victims of rape a bad name. Really didn't like it.
    SheReads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I found this book absolutely disturbing, but very, very well done. Lynch really makes the reader think Keir isn't so bad. Lynch created a really likable, but scary and disturbing villain in Keir.
    4sarad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Interesting read. The guy makes himself out to be a great guy and makes you believe his family is the most wonderful family ever, but as the story goes on you realize how wrong he is on all fronts. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
    shannonseglin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Keir is a senior who fancies himself a lovable rogue. So do his widowed father, his older sisters, and his classmates. He likes being liked; he just doesn't do well with involvement. Keir would never do anything to hurt anyone intentionally¿or would he? When he tackles and cripples a member of an opposing football team, it's determined to be an accident¿one that earns him the good-humored nickname, Killer. When he and his buddies destroy a town statue, they consider it a high-spirited, funny prank. When he gets drunk, the alcohol abuse is dismissed as silly, harmless drinks, and drugs at parties are strictly recreational. And when he date rapes the girl he thinks he loves, at first he convinces himself that the way it looks is not the way it is. (SLJ)
    hyborianmike on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    An excellent book, but I can't say I enjoyed it. I've had some interesting conversations with my lib'ary colleagues (most of whom are women) about this novel. While not every man is a rapist, as a gender we do pretty much stink, and are pretty much interested in only one thing. "Killer" Kier may not representative of the gender (except maybe the jocks,[just joking]) but I don't think he's all that atypical either.
    TechiMi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This is a small, rather unassuming looking little book that packs a punch. The day I started it, a friend asked "So what's inexcusable?" and I said, "As far as I can tell, the main character is."Entering in the midst of a fight, you get off on wobbly feet. One half of the fight thinks he's right, and the other half thinks he's insane. So Keir Sarafian sets about telling us what a good guy he is, documenting it, and rationalizing the instances where it seems he might be anything else. Meanwhile, on every flash back to the present, Gigi Boudakian is still crying.It certainly does seem, at least when you start, that Keir Sarafian is what he claims. And even when he cripples a guy, it seems plausible that it was an accident. Football injuries happen. But then there's the incident with the statue. And the tape of himself abusing his own soccer teammates...but it's blurry so he's sure it's not really him--he would never do that. Still, as the school year winds down, life becomes more and more questionable. And more and more inexcusable.Then Graduation Day turns sour, as Keir's sisters won't be making it home for the ceremy. It turns out Gigi's boyfriend doesn't make it either. So they end up together in a limo, riding aimlessly, until they decide to take off to Norfolk. Arriving there, Keir is greeted with more shocks. On top of his already unstable state, helped along by ample doses of alcohol and drugs, it's just too much.When all the events have added up, the question becomes who is Keir Sarafian? Does he even really know?