My rating: 5 of 5 stars
One hour was all that remained in the life of Joseph William Bateman.
Joseph Bateman’s life has never been easy, which is why it is no surprise that he finds himself on death row. He watched his mother suffer at the hands of his alcoholic and abusive father. His best friend, Alex, influenced may of his decisions growing up by spreading the racial hate she was raised with, and by all accounts, Joseph’s arrival on death row can be attributed to him being a product of his environment. But on his final day, Joseph reflects and in doing so, brings about a chance for redemption.
So Joseph Bateman, in the closing hour of his life, chose to reflect.
Joseph soon learns that his lifelong infatuation with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, particularly John Wilkes Booth, is more than meets the eye. Joseph’s soul is transported back in time and now inhabits a body over a hundred years older than himself. He learns that he has been sent back to earn redemption for his damned soul, but the task is easier said than done. He must change the past, starting with booth, to find peace in the present.
You can’t let hate get to you, son. Because if it does, it will destroy the person you really are, and replace you with a stranger you’ll hate.
Joseph, with a little help from a mysterious stranger named J, finds more than the redemption he seeks. His path to peace is paved with stones that change the present that Joseph knows, but he is determined to fix he wrong he has done. Despite the difficulty of the task set to him, Joseph commits himself to earning the redemption that he has been allowed the chance to receive.
He was with his family, and he was happy. That’s all anyone could ask for in their final days… to reflect and see nothing but happiness.
Where to begin…
This book gave me the beloved yet hated book hangover. It doesn’t happen often, but on occasion a book comes along that leaves me with such emotion that I need some time before starting a new book (or finishing a book I’m reading alongside with it), and Booth was definitely one of them.
I was fortunate enough to win a signed copy of Booth after connecting with Pellegrini on Twitter, but that in no way has influenced my review and I downloaded a copy of the Kindle version so I would not ruin my signed copy (it is the only signed copy of a book I own) and I could freely highlight and annotate until my heart was content. And boy, did I highlight.
First, I want to address the beginning. It is not for the faint of heart. There are scences that involve rape, domestic violence and racial hatred. Honestly, it made me cringe, and at times, was hard to read, but considering we learn early on that Joseph Bateman is on death row, I knew this was a crucial part of his story. Since finishing the book, I have read several reviews that give Pellegrini grief about these scenes and the frequency of the domestic violence, but I took these moments as character building. Joseph Bateman would not be who he is without the environment in which he was raised. Did I enjoy reading those parts? Not exactly. It hurt to read them, but I built sympathy for Joseph, justified some of his actions, and became emotionally invested in a fictional character. What more is there than having characters come to life in front of your eyes? For me, the hatred that I was reading was no different than that found in classics like To Kill a Mockingbird or the real accounts of death and horror found in most historical fiction. I don’t love reading about hatred, but it is a fact of life that there are those that simply hate others in our world and because of this hatred Joseph became an inmate facing death.
I was surprised a lot by this book, which was really nice. When you read so many books, you’re often able to figure out or guess what will happen next. It doesn’t take away from the story, but there are few surprises. Without giving the story away, there were moments that I clearly noted “!,” which is my annotation for “Ok, didn’t see that coming.”
The pièce de résistance, however, is Part 3. The ending left me fighting back tears so I wouldn’t have to explain to my 5 year old why I was crying over my Kindle. Because I became emotionally attached to Joseph early on, the ending hit me hard. I read page after page hoping that Joseph would find peace, earn redemption, gain knowledge, and change his life. I wanted him to succeed in his endeavors every single step of the way. The final chapter right up to the final sentence are worth reading the entire book for because there was finally peace when the walls came down.
And in case you missed it on Twitter, my favorite quote of all:
Unfortunately, even happy endings have some tragedy and tears in them.