In 1967 Donald McLean was 12 years old when he was targeted by a
pedophile named Charlie Schoeler. Over the next three years his life becomes
split between the normal world of any young boy and the secret world Charlie
draws him towards. A deceptively plausible one he falls further and further
into until it becomes his life.
The novel takes you back
to a time and place before society was fully aware there were predators like
him. It tells the story of the planned and calculated way a child molester goes
about selecting his victims and how he views and treats them once they become
dependent on him.
Charlie Schoeler seemed to
have everything. He's a well thought of teacher who has the respect of his
community and a close circle of friends he's known since childhood. To all
outward appearances his life is satisfying and fulfilling. He takes care of his
mother and tutors children who need help after school. Nobody suspects what he
really is. Charlie is able to hide behind the strictures and mores that still
govern society at that time. The sexual revolution is just beginning in America
and most people aren't aware men like him exist. Even his closest friends and
colleagues see his "mentoring" of young boys as something laudable.
Donald McLean is an
average student and good athlete. Like most children of that time he's been
bought up to be polite and obedient. When Mr. Schoeler asks if he'd like to go
to the beach he jumps at the chance. His parents like Mr. Schoeler, he'd taught
Donald's older sister and put a lot of effort into making her a better student.
Teachers were trusted in those days and his mother gives him permission to go.
What follows is at turns heartbreaking and horrifying, disturbing and sometimes
humorous. An always insightful look into the world of an abused child told from
his point of view.
The years he spends with
Charlie and the damage done to him. His struggles to get away at the age of 15
and the subsequent problems he has adjusting to normal life. It follows him
into his mid-20s when he decides he needs to have answers to what really
happened. Donald goes back to talk to Charlie understanding confrontation will
never get him what he needs......information.
In the same way Charlie
built a bridge of trust to seduce him as a child, Donald does the same. He
becomes Charlie's confidant and eventually learns what he needs in order to
close that chapter of his life and make what peace he can with it.