John is in a juvenile prison serving time for two murders. One was self defense and the other one he didn't do. But he's been convicted and now has lost all hope and is trying to survive in prison. He has a bit of a secret weapon though.
John was brutally attacked by his father and was legally dead for six minutes. After a lengthy recovery, he has the ability to leave his body and travel through space without anyone knowing. Basically he's a ghost that is also still alive. He's surviving in prison doing favors for other inmates. He leaves his cell and investigates questions they may have about their loved ones and acquaintances.
Things get complicated when John encounters someone who can see him. He unknowingly puts her in danger and so now he's trying to keep himself alive and also keep her safe. Cosimano doesn't sugarcoat prison life. It's gritty and dangerous and may disturb some readers.
Holding Smoke is interjected with scenes from John's past life--the crime he supposedly committed, some of his time in the hospital, and the beating that started it all. As we continue through the story we get more and more details about what really happened. And of course, in the end, we find out the true murderer.
Holding Smoke moves at a fast pace and easily keeps your interest. The tension builds at the end and the resolution is exciting and suspenseful. I can think of lots of students, including some male reluctant readers, to whom I can recommend Holding Smoke.
Published by Disney-Hyperion, May 3, 2016
eARC obtained from NetGalley
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