Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne

In The Guilty One, an eight-year old boy is found dead and eleven-year-old Sebastian, is accused of the crime. Daniel Hunter, a London solicitor takes the case and does his best to defend Sebastian. Daniel, too, was a troubled young man and this case reminds him of his own youth and Minnie, the woman who raised him.

I really enjoyed this book. The story is split into two parts: Daniel as a youngest with his caretaker, Minnie; Daniel, the solicitor, defending Sebastian. I enjoyed both parts, but I preferred the latter. I found it really interesting the way the court case was conducted and how it played out. I liked seeing Daniel as a young troubled kid, though, and thought it was interesting how his past affected his defence of Sebastian.

I liked Daniel. After a troubled youth he pulled his life together and became a successful young solicitor. Sebastian, the accused, was a bit scary for an eleven-year-old. I questioned his guilt all the way through the book. He definitely needed some help. The most compelling character for me was Minnie. I really felt sorry for her. She had suffered a great loss and always did what she thought was best for Daniel. The estrangement between her and Daniel and the cause of that separation brought tears to my eyes more than once. It was actually painful to read. I wished their story had a happier ending.

I’ve seen the terms “solicitor” and “barrister” before, but didn’t know what the differences were. According to what I’ve read, a barrister argues before the court, while the solicitor does not. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it. These are British terms and we do use them here in Canada, but I not sure we make these distinctions.

I think this would make an excellent book club book. I’m sure it would stir up all kinds of interesting discussions about troubled kids, the treatment of young offenders (Young Offender's Act or the newer Youth Criminal Justice Act here in Canada), and the foster child system as well as much more.

Highly recommended.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

For more information about the author, please visit Lisa Ballantyne's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at William Morrow/HarperCollins for this review copy.

The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne, William Morrow (HarperCollins), ©2012. ISBN 9780062195517(Trade paperback), 451p.

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