Grappling Klay by Luca Castillo

Review by Shannon

The message in this book: If you are not thinking right—get help. After two sessions with a psychiatrist, the main character has an epiphany surrounding this quote: “Don’t ever apologize for respecting yourself.”

Author Luca Castillo writes Grappling Klay in the first-person present tense, which is not my preference, but since the book has received over 80% 5-star ratings, I decided to check it out.  (Con'd below)

Grappling Klay is not a fluffy read. It is the mind-numbing internal dialogue of a troubled, mentally unstable, athletic teen trying to find his way through his senior year of high school. He is sexually involved with his girlfriend (they have sex in her bed in her parents’ home). The protagonist, Klay, lives with his dad, stepmom, and stepsiblings.

Subjects covered in this novel are mental illness, intravenous drug abuse, suicide, homelessness, teen sex, nuclear family, suicide of a parent, and underage drinking. The story also deals with a student’s bigotry, bullying, and homophobia. There is also a crushing relationship breakup and college athletic scholarship rejection. Despite the cratering of most of the relationships in the protagonist’s life, the author neatly ties up all the loose ends—broken relationships become restored. Voila, happy ending.

The book needs more editing. It makes me crazy for high school students to have poor grammar ingrained in their heads while reading it and assuming that the author knows what they are doing. Here is a little example of the problem: “Dad takes Kassie and I to the ER, where they examine me.”

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