The 89th Temple by Charlie Canning is a story of society, how we treat others, how we treat ourselves, respect, and acceptance. It is the journey of a group of teenagers who are in detention centers for having lashed out and killed people. We learn each of their stories and get to know them as people. They were bullied, pushed to the edge of sanity, and taken over the side with terrible circumstances. Now someone wants to help them by taking them on a pilgrimage to 88 temples on an island in Japan.

The 89th Temple by Charlie Canning

Very different perspective on bullying. I loved the characters from the very beginning. And each had their own, very unique, story on how they were bullied and how they displayed their strife. The adults on the other hand were so very stereotypical and traditional. And some of the time the moral was so soap-boxy that the narrator went into second person. But there was just something so gripping about the writing.

The comments on society and how others treated these children, were powerful and disgusting at times. One of the boys gets accused of stealing. He runs from the police. When he is exonerated, the police still say he is terrible because he broke the law by running. What terrible men with power.

The symbolism was deep and so very Japanese. I loved it. The author, having lived in Japan for many years, brings his perspective as an outsider but also a depth of understanding. It made everything, in its harsh and unforgiving light, beautiful. It ended a bit too abruptly. The ending was beautiful and fulfilling, but then there was no denouement…it just ended.

I highly recommend this book to anyone. There is a lot to be gleaned from it, and it was a very engaging read.
I received this book from the author for review.