1 out of 4 stars
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Steven Wayne’s Yet I Still Stand is young Jonathan Anthony Russo’s coming-of-age story; Jonathan has been dealt a harsh lot in life: ever since he could remember, his father and slew of stepsisters have been verbally and physically abusing him. This constant barrage of abuse finally culminates one day, when, at the tender age of ten, he is brought to an abandoned building and raped by an older girl he meets on the way home from school. We then follow Jonathan’s story as he tries to make sense of his life, as well as how he deals with his various traumatic experiences.
To be very candid, I found this book extremely disappointing, and there were many factors that contributed to my lack of enjoyment. Before proceeding to explain my rationale, I will first rate Steven Wayne’s Yet I Still Stand 1 out of 4 stars.
First of all, a major problem present is the lack of believability. Trying to immerse myself in the narrative required an onerous effort, as I found many aspects of the plot, frankly, baffling and ridiculous. For example, how is it possible that Jonathan, as a ten-year-old, would continuously receive thousands of dollars from his father’s friends, Tommy and Rico, as a bribe to remain silent about their homosexual relationship? Furthermore, this element of homosexuality has no role in the story whatsoever; in fact, the reason for this massive amount of money given becomes crystal-clear as the story progresses: it is being utilised as a plot device to aid Jonathan in whichever way he needs.
Moreover, this lack of believability also extends to character development. Building upon the previous example, I highly doubt that Jonathan, as a tweenager, could possess an adult’s awareness of the value of so much cash, yet we see him spending only on things that are necessary for plot progression, i.e., no frivolous purchases at all. Hence, it was really strenuous to follow the narrative, since I was questioning every single action each character took, as well as the way the plot had been developed and progressed.
I do think that this is one of those stories that might have played out smoothly in an author's mind, but when it is put on paper, the coherence, unfortunately, fails badly. I found myself extremely confused as to what was going on most of the time, because it was very difficult to relate to any of the characters (since most of their actions did not make sense). This was certainly regrettable, as for a coming-of-age story, we definitely do not see much about the characters’ motivations and subsequent emotional maturation – Yet I Still Stand is very much a plot-driven narrative.
Moreover, and lamentably, it is not easy to find a positive point about the book. Nonetheless, whilst there are a number of grammar errors (such as missing punctuation marks) present in the novel, there is a minor silver lining: the editing improved as the novel progressed, which is fortunate.
Still, I have no choice but to rate Steven Wayne’s Yet I Still Stand the lowest rating possible; personally, coherence is an absolutely vital factor that every book needs to possess, and Yet I Still Stand did not meet this expectation. If I could, I urge Wayne to work extensively with an editor to iron out all the issues as soon as possible, so that the book will become a better read. Therefore, in its current form, I will not be able to recommend this book to anyone. However, for those who are willing to take it up, there are numerous explicit references to incest, rape, physical and emotional abuse, and gore.
Yet I Still Stand
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