Here at Be a Better Booktalker, we’re always looking for books that will shake up those reluctant readers and get them interested in books again. I’m going to say that Jude is a great candidate, based on the number of teens who fight over this book after I booktalk it to classes. Good readers, reluctant readers, boys, and girls will ALL want to know what happens to Jude after his father’s violent death. Check out Kate Morgenroth’s website to learn more about Jude and the rest of her novels for adults and teens.
If Jude is sure of just one thing, it’s that he doesn’t want to be anything like his father. He doesn’t want to live like him, and he doesn’t want to die like him. When the police interview Jude, they notice that he shows no reaction to the fact that his father is lying dead on the kitchen floor. The police don’t know that Jude has had years of practice learning not to show emotions on his face. They don’t know what it was like living with his father. When the detective comes in and asks Jude what happened, he decides to tell at least part of the truth. Jude tells him that his father was a drug dealer, and that he was killed because he was skimming too much from his heroin and cocaine shipments. When the detective asks what happened in the kitchen, that’s when Jude lies. Jude tells him that he was in the living room watching TV, and that he didn’t see who shot his father. He doesn’t tell the truth – that he saw exactly what happened because he was sitting next to his father at the kitchen table at the moment he was killed. That he heard his father’s last words. That he watched his father die, and watched the blood seep out of his body and onto the floor. Jude doesn’t tell the detective the truth because of the promise that he made to his father’s killer.
When the police search the apartment looking for clues, they find evidence that even Jude doesn’t know about. They find a sealed envelope taped to the underside of a drawer, and when they open it everything changes. Because inside the envelope is evidence of the truth about Jude and his family, the truth that has been kept from Jude his whole life. Opening that envelope sets a chain of events into motion that Jude could never have predicted. He’s about to learn who he really is, who his father really was, and in how many ways Jude is just like his father.