Review: In the Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland

Rating: 8.5/10


Most kids dream about a new bike, a pair of top-dollar sneakers endorsed by their favorite athlete, or that totally awesome videogame everyone’s raving about. But thirteen-year-old Jake and his little brother Matthew want nothing more than to escape from their abusive father. As soon as possible, they plan to run away to California, where they will reunite with their mother and live happily ever after.It won’t be easy, though. After a scuffle with a local bully puts Jake’s arch-nemesis in the hospital, Sheriff Theresa McLelland starts poking her nose into their feud. During a trip to the family cabin for the opening weekend of deer-hunting season, Jake and Matthew kick their plan into action, leaving Dad tied to a chair as they flee into the night.

Meanwhile, the bully and his father have their own plans for revenge, and the events to follow will forever change the lives of everyone involved… 


Thanks to the publisher and authors for a copy of In The Scrape for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

In the Scrape, while small in page count, makes a big impact on your emotional health and well-being. It is a heartstring tugger of a novella; one that focuses not so much on the supernatural or unknown aspects of horror, but the horror some have in their very homes.

This review will be fairly short as the novella tops out at around 104 pages. This was my first stab at both Newman and Steensland and definitely won’t be my last. I am very interested to know if they co-wrote each chapter, split them evenly, or if each of them took a part. The first part itself felt fairly evenly paced, telling the story of the two boys, their abusive dad, and their plan to rid themselves of him; but the 2nd took off and never let off the gas. I feel there could’ve been a little more meat between the two as there was some more story to tell, at least IMO.

This is one of those coming-of-age stories with plenty of bumps and bruises along the way, leading to a nice payoff for the reader, even if it is at the expense of the kids’ mental stability for the rest of their lives. It is an ending I could see coming, but the authors did it in such a way as to still keep me on my toes and guessing.

I’d recommend In The Scrape if you enjoy coming-of-age tales that will emotionally grip you and never let go, even into the wee hours of the night.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Great review, David. The plot gives me the chills.

    Liked by 1 person

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