Monday 9 July 2012
Split Second by Cath Staincliffe
Emma is on her way home from work when three youths swagger onto the bus. They spot someone they know - another teenager, Luke - and start to harass him, taunting him with vile, racist names. Emma knows they should be stopped but she's afraid to stand up to them. Surely the driver will throw them off the bus for causing trouble. And what about the rugby player-framed man at the front of the bus? Shouldn't he step in?
But the only person willing to stick up for Luke is another youth. When Luke is struck, his head banging against the window, Jason demands they leave Luke alone. The three turn on Jason, giving Luke the opportunity to slip away. He is chased off the bus, with Jason following closely behind.
Emma is shocked when she reads the fate of the boys in the newspaper. One has died from a stab wound while another is seriously ill in hospital.
Split Second delves behind the headlines, telling the story of those affected by such crimes, showing how they cope with their grief and anger and the guilt and then courage of the witnesses who are willing to come forward to first help the police piece together the facts and evidence and then stand up in court to ensure justice for the victims.
Right from the start it was clear Split Second was going to be an intense read with no happily ever afters but it was a powerful, emotional read that kept me turning the pages to see what the outcome would be. I really felt for Emma, whose confidence had been crushed from an early age. She hadn't felt able to stand up for Luke on the bus, which left her weighed down by guilt but she somehow found the strength to go to court as a witness and I think this allowed her to grow as a person.
Split Second is a tough but compelling read and one that is very relevant today.
Thank you to Costable & Robinson for sending me a copy to review.