I came home recently to find an unexpected package on the front porch. I did not recognize the return address, but was absolutely delighted upon opening it to find this:
I had the pleasure of receiving an advanced copy of his first book as well, but due to the fact that I’ve known the author most of our lives combined with much of his first novel being based on actual places & events from our shared experiences, I found myself unable to give an unbiased review. As I said then, his ability to take those events and make them their own was a sure sign of his remarkable talent.
In his first novel, Celia the heroine, is a sophomore who is befriended by a group of older kids, mostly seniors, who have a name for their clique. The group tends to wear black, listen to alternative music – some of it pretty obscure – and hang out at local clubs where they mill about with kids from other area high schools. Mr. Kotecki was a sophomore my senior year when my little group of friends, who had a name for ourselves, would take him along with us to hang out at the clubs where our music was played, while we milled about with kids from other area high schools. (Last fall I went to the reunion of the old club gang and wrote about it here and while it’s mostly a tribute to my dear friend Amy, perhaps you can see where some of Kotecki’s inspiration sprung from). Separating our reality from the romanticized version, Celia & her gang have far more style and definitely nicer cars than we did, as well as some supernatural powers that cause some strange happenings at their high school.
As I sat down with his follow up, I was curious as to what I would recognize. While there are some definite nods scattered throughout the narrative, this novel was not as heavy with biographical references for me, meaning I can be a tad more unbiased than I was with his last effort.
Have I ever mentioned to you that in the “Pretty in Pink” version of my life, he’s my Duckie? He was my childhood friend who kept an eye out for me, who made sure when I needed a date, I had one, who was right about Blaine being a major appliance. I recognized remnants of his parent’s television viewing rules in my own rules with my daughter – he’s the sort of old friend that’s just part of the DNA at this point of my life. So while this second novel wasn’t as biographical, there was still the unmistakable recognizable voice of that old friend telling me the story.
“Pull Down The Night” introduces us to Bruno and his older brother Sylvio, new to Suburban High. The brothers are befriended by what’s left of The Rosary, half of them having gone to off to college. Celia, our heroine from the first book, is still a major character in this sequel, who is guiding Bruno with his newly discovered supernatural abilities. With some of the same elements of the first book carrying over, including chapters names stemming from songs influential to Mr. Kotecki, this follow-up gives us more of a look into the author’s imagined world where good vs. evil on a supernatural level is broken down into Kind, Unkind and Ambassadors. Some of the secondary characters from “The Suburban Strange” have a more prominent role this time around, letting this sequel stand on its own. Woven into this other world are the timeless elements of teenage life- unrequited love, the transitions of moving as well as growing up, heading off to college and just plain old fitting in. There are newer elements woven in that weren’t present in the last book – religion & spirituality in the form of Bruno’s minister father, as well as architecture – a subject near and dear to both the author as well as myself (him holding a degree in architecture while my B.S. is for interior design). With a plot that moves at just the right pace, this was a book I could not put down.
As the mother of a child who is now in the Young Adult demographic, I have found myself reading quite a bit of YA lit in the last year. “Pull Down The Night” is one of those rare gems that is thoughtful, intelligent and hopefully inspires it’s young readers to explore more of the world brought to them in this book while enjoying the entertainment it has to offer.