What would you do if your child committed a crime? That’s the question explored in Saving Noah, by Lucinda Berry. A short book that reads as though it was ripped from the headlines.
Noah Coates is a picture perfect 16-year-old. Straight A student, all star swimmer, bright future…until he shares a secret with his mom that destroys his faultless facade. Noah shamefully admits he’s molested two 6-year-old girls and life for the Coates family is never the same again. Noah is convicted and sentenced to an 18-month stay at a juvenile therapeutic rehab facility (can sex offenders really be rehabilitated?) while his family falls apart in his absence.
Noah’s mother is committed to supporting him. At times some of her thoughts/actions are mind boggling. But the author, I think, did a great job at helping the reader to understand her “why”. Noah’s father, on the other hand, is unable to forgive him for what he did and wants nothing to do with him upon his release from the rehab facility. Noah adjusts to life post crime & sentencing with the help of his mom, but nothing is as it was before. The ending surprised and gutted me all in the same breath.
Ugh. This was a tough one. As a parent, I think most of us have an innate sense to protect our kids at all costs…but would we really be so quick to have their backs if they committed a crime as heinous as pedophilia? While it was impossible to understand WHY Noah did what he did, the author had a way of making the reader sympathize with him. I’m not saying he was a likable character at all, but his storyline was told from his mom’s POV and it felt like we were inside her head a bit as his character was explained from the lens of someone who loves him unconditionally.
This is definitely a very taboo topic and won’t appeal to everyone as far as subject matter goes. That said, the author did a great job of alluding to the crime without going into graphic detail. In my opinion, I felt like this was a realistic look at how a child’s misconduct not only upends their own life, but thrusts their immediate family into crisis mode as well. The story seemed well researched on all fronts. Truly heartbreaking and uncomfortable to read…a story that’s long since stayed with me after turning the last page.
This would be an excellent pick for a book club. Lots of discussion opportunities and talking points with this one. Be warned that this book deals with sensitive subject matter and could be triggering (read the blurb and/or reviews first!)
4.3 out of 5 stars.
TW: sexual abuse of a minor; pedophilia; suicidal ideation; bullying; self-harm; depression; family trauma
Simplify Your Teaching
Join our community for tips, tricks, and resources to help you simplify your teaching!