Everyone has moments in life they wish they could rewind, erase, and do over. For movie buff Kyle, that moment is the one where he killed his best friend Jason. No matter how many times Kyle replays that moment, no matter how many different ways he can think of to film it, it always ends up the same. Jason is dead and Kyle has to live with the consequences, and that is the setup for Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe, coming in October.
One morning, Kyle and Jason are hiding out in Kyle’s shed, looking through some of the items Kyle’s dad had stored there. Jason breaks open a rusted metal box containing a gun. In fragmented scenes, the reader learns that Kyle fires the gun and Jason dies minutes afterward.
Kyle thinks it might have been an accident.
As Kyle’s movie plays out, the reader learns that Kyle’s friendship with Jason was not as perfect as he made it seem in the beginning of the book. Jason had started to drift away from Kyle, hanging out with guys that Kyle didn’t exactly like. Kyle stops doing his schoolwork and every day is a struggle, but he always makes time to look out for Chase, Jason’s little brother, the only one who Kyle can have a semi-normal conversation with. Over and over, Kyle replays the scene of Jason’s death and holds short conversations with Jason in his head. Ostracized by his best friend’s parents and the other kids at school, Kyle only knows one thing for sure: He can’t keep living the scene over and over. He has to move on, one way or another.
What could have easily been a preachy book about the dangers of guns is instead a swift-moving, thoughtful look at the function of memory and the consequences of living with oneself after a tragedy. It’s reminiscent of Walter Dean Myers’s Monster and Gail Giles’s Right Behind You, and sure to appeal to fans of those books. It’s a great choice for a teen book group, or just for those who want a more serious read.