A Hard-to-Categorize Book: What Jamie Saw by Carolyn Coman

mfac booklist young adult
What Jamie Saw
By Carolyn Coman

What Jamie Saw is the story of a boy and his mother fleeing an abuser. The first chapter is heartbreaking and poignant. Coman chooses a close 3rd person but incorporates a distinct narrator voice—mature, respectful (similar to the Ramona books but less optimistic). So the voice is all at once close and distant.

Interestingly, there is much foreshadowing and buildup but without the payoff I expected. There’s no huge showdown, which in a way adds to the realism of the book. Coman also accurately gets at the terror of domestic violence, and by keeping the story within the myopic confines of an 8year old, Coman can show vividly how even being witness to violence can have devastating effects. The reader sees Jamie’s confused feelings, feels his impulses, is torn by the tug of war between the simplicity of his thoughts and the complexity of his emotions. The book reaches an emotional climax as opposed to one driven by plot points. Striking similarities between this story and one of my own projects, both in the telling and the emotional climax.