When Patrick is found near death, strung up to a gas pump, Cat emerges from a kind of self-imposed exile to avenge the hate crime committed on her former best friend. The local sheriff is ready to pin it on gay-bashing out of towners, but Cat isn't so sure. Despite warnings to leave it be, she finds the will to expose the homegrown hatred that gave rise to Patrick's attack.Lauren Myracle breaks down readers with this book, giving them gorgeous prose mixed with a heart-breaking and compelling mystery. This sheds light on the dark side of a small town, on the hate, bigotry, and fear than runs under the God-fearing, the proper quiet, and the sweet tea. This novel is unforgettable. Its story, its characters, and its unflinching message will never leave you.Now, I will say that I read this book after the National Book Award nomination confusion, but I wish I'd picked it up before. I wish I'd been strong enough to read it on its own merit and not because of a mistake made and only half-solved. That being said, I found this book to be so moving, so real, so frightening. I can only hope that the attention, positive or negative, will shed more light on this book in order to attract more readers.This book is an exploration of guilt, of loss, of fear, but also about courage and survival. And love. One thing is abundantly clear: even when there is hate in the world, there is also love. And love cannot be struck down.I was surprised at how real the setting was, how I could hear the wind, imagine the lonely streets, see Cat walking alone to Patrick's house when he's in the hospital. The realism is staggering, the town like it had been plucked from the American South and stuck into this book. And the people, the God-fearing old ladies, the drug addicts, the young girls and their lack of innocence, the recklessness of young boys but almost men. The people a small town like this creates are so powerful.Cat's journey to discover what happened to Patrick shows such courage, even when her own personal demons still haunt her every step, her every movement towards the truth. There are so many times when anyone else would stop, when they would back down and wait for their friend to get better without learning the truth, but Cat soldiers on. She knows better than to turn her back on Patrick and the horrific hate crime committed against him.A powerful book about fear, hatred, silence, and the unwavering strength and courage it takes to break through that wall. If you aren't moved by this story, then you are surely made out of stronger stuff than I am. Than so many other readers that welcomed this book into their lives.