Shades of Gray Book Review a novel by Andy Holloman

Meet Andy! 

Ahoy Fellow Fathomers! Today in The Locker I introduce to you the latest book I read, Shades of Gray by Andy Holloman.  Goodreads Andy Holloman(not to be confused with the other Grey book floating around out there)

After I read Andy Holloman’s Shades of Gray, I realized the feeling I had at the conclusion of the book reminded me of a long ago time in a high school class. A teacher proposed the Heinz Dilemma to us, in hopes of a spirited debate. If you are unfamiliar with the Heinz Dilemma, I’ll digress away from my review for a moment. Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of six stages of moral development is a modification and expansion of Jean Piaget’s simpler two stage theory.  Kohlberg used the “Heinz Dilemma” short parable- if you will- as a way to explain each of his six theorized stages.

Heinz Steals the Drug
In Europe, a woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to make. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2,000 for a small dose of the drug.

The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together about $ 1,000 which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said: "No, I discovered the drug and I'm going to make money from it." So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man's store to steal the drug-for his wife. Should the husband have done that?" (Kohlberg, 1963).

Kohlberg was not as interested in the answer as he was the reasoning each participant in the discussion gave following the story. At the time my teacher presented this exercise to my blossoming mind, this particular dilemma challenged my hyper-sensitive, small town morality and made me think twice about the concrete beliefs of right and wrong. Most situations in life are not black and white, but rather, shades of gray….hence how I tied the book to this psychological theory. Please, I encourage you to read more about he six stages, if this subject intrigues you. I personally find it fully fascinating and engaging. Kohlberg's Moral Dilemma and the Six Stages

Now, back to the review~Holloman pens a creative, heart-wrenching tale of a father forced to do the unthinkable in order to help his sick child, Lucy. This page turner raptly held my attention until the very end. The story shifts from a terrible auto accident, back to the details leading up to said accident. The introduction to the main protagonist, John, is thorough and sets up the pivotal relationship he has with his younger half-brother, Travis, - also a major character.

The author weaves the plotline together very well and introduces each player, explaining their role in the story. Holloman describes the geographic areas used in the story and inside details of the travel industry to further give the tale plausibility. Some of the specifics are so methodically explained- it made me wonder if Mr. Holloman has the inside on conducting illegal activity. (Just kidding, Andy~ smile.) As I read each page, I wondered how far I would challenge my own morality- for the  sake of the "right" reasons.

As well as Holloman pens this manuscript, I did find some slight mistakes. A couple of which are more my personal preferences than may be largely held opinions. There is a name discrepancy with one very minor character, and a few grammatical errors which I chalked up to editing slips. Unfortunately, this occurs from time to time, and even in NY Times best-sellers I’ve read.

To me, it felt like Holloman rushed the last third of the book. Although he eventually covered the answers well enough, I would have liked to read the story unfold, and not “be told” what occurred to get from point a to b, c, and d, etc. He definitely possesses the talent as a creative tale-weaver, and I would have liked more of the particulars to develop as I read.

Toward the end, in one scene, Travis spends time with his niece, Lucy, and overuse of the endearment, “darling”, pushed me to the point I skipped through most of their few pages of interchange. I believe the continued use of “darling” is to emphasize Travis’s love for Lucy. However, Holloman explained it very well throughout and he really did not need to overstate it by a repetitive word usage.

Shades of Gray ends with hopefulness for John’s future, but, not in the way I expected. It is not a black and white happy ending- once again, shades of gray- and I felt sadness for John when I turned the final page. This book is light enough to be considered entertainment, yet, also compelled me to wince at times in anger, disappointment, and sorrow-all good indicators of successful fiction.

Considering everything, I give Shades of Gray Purchase Link four stars and I look forward to more books by Andy Holloman. If you want suspense, intrigue, and creativity, I believe you will enjoy his inaugural book.


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