The Turnaround Review
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After a summer of road trips and hanging out by the pool, it’s once again time to start thinking about school supplies and homework. And as the kids hop on the bus and head back to school, it’s time to set aside the fluffy chick lit and flashy thrillers for a while and settle into a thoughtful, character-driven novel like George Pelecanos’s The Turnaround.

One summer night in 1972, three teenage boys made the drunken decision to drive down a road in an unfamiliar neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Of the three, only Alex Pappas realized that it was a bad idea—but he had no idea that it would change their lives, along with the lives of three other boys, forever.

Thirty-five years later, Alex is still haunted by the night that left him badly scarred—but after a chance encounter with one of the other survivors of “The Incident,” he realizes that he might finally have a chance to put the past behind him.

Meanwhile, one of the other men involved decides to put the past behind him in a completely different way—by getting revenge.

The Turnaround isn’t the typical crime novel. It’s not fast-paced or flashy or filled with cheap thrills. Instead, it’s deliberate and reflective and heartfelt—and that makes it more than just another throwaway beach read.

Pelecanos takes the time to build the story and the characters. He lets his readers get to know a few of the boys involved—and to understand their lives and their situations. He then explains how “The Incident” happened—and he helps readers understand why it happened. Then, instead of focusing on the subsequent investigation, he focuses on the aftermath. He picks up the story decades later and looks at how the crime has affected the lives of those involved—and how each survivor has handled the resulting anger and guilt differently.

The Turnaround is a skillfully and thoughtfully written story about responsibility and redemption. It’s a story about what happened in the turnaround of a dead-end road one summer night, but it’s also a story about turning your life around and changing your attitude. It’s more than just another police procedural; it’s a crime novel that will make you think. And while the end is just a bit too neat—and the ends are tied up a bit too well—it’s a meaningful conclusion nonetheless.

So if you’re looking for a thought-provoking back-to-school read, give The Turnaround a try.

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