Title: Micah Johnson Goes West (Get Out: Book Two)
Author: Sean Kennedy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Harmony Ink
Length: 186 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Teen Fiction
At a Glance: Micah Johnson Goes West is a novel rich in emotion and humor that addresses what it’s like to grow up and move on to new horizons in all the best possible ways.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: On the outside, Micah Johnson seems to have everything. He is proving his worth on the field during his rookie year with his new professional football team, the Fremantle Dockers, but his personal life is a mess. Homesick, three thousand kilometres away from his family and friends on the other side of Australia, Micah isn’t coping. He’s using casual sex, alcohol, and drugs as crutches since he doesn’t feel comfortable approaching his foster family with his problems, and he’s left with nowhere to turn. It isn’t until he experiences a health scare and a friend is rocked by a personal tragedy that Micah realises he does have the strength to succeed at a new life in the West—but he has to learn to ask for help.
Review: Author Sean Kennedy has this smooth, easygoing voice when he writes. His stories draw the reader in; his characters are instantly recognizable, familiar in a way that allows you to involve yourself in their lives, nearly forgetting that they are fictional. Each time I pick up one of Mr. Kennedy’s novels, I am transported back onto the football field in Melbourne and immersed in the lives of some of the most compelling and amusing people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting in a story. Micah Johnson is no exception. The way in which this author delivers the experiences of this young man as he transitions from the safety of his parents’ home to that of a stranger and fellow footy team member thousands of kilometers away in Perth is not only smooth but also packed with pathos and realism. Micah grows up a bit in this Get Out series sequel, Micah Johnson Goes West, and we watch with sometimes baited breath to see if he can make it—survive the loneliness that pulls at him and makes him do some fairly stupid things just like any teenager on the cusp of adulthood does.
Picking up directly from the first novel, The Ongoing Reformation of Micah Johnson, the sequel finds our young footy player moving to Perth, leaving his now ex-boyfriend Kyle, a family he loves, and his mentor Declan. He is met by Sam, who is a member of his team and his mentor for his rookie year. While Sam is everything Micah could have hoped for had he an older brother, the move is still more traumatic than he lets on, and over the course of the first few months, Micah finds himself slowly unraveling. Desperately homesick, plus feeling lost without Kyle, who has moved on, and definitely trying to prove himself on the team, Micah makes one bad decision after another while trying to hide how very vulnerable and alone he feels. Two major things will happen—one to a former enemy turned friend, and the other to Micah himself that will prove to be a huge wake up call and finally convince Micah he must change how he is muddling through his new life before he loses himself completely.
The reason this novel works so well is that Micah is the epitome of a teenager on the cusp of adulthood and yet is still uniquely just himself. The pressure of being one of just a few out and proud footy players to make a national team is intense and yet that is not what really ends up sidelining our boy. No, it is much more commonplace than that—loneliness, feeling lost even when in a crowd of people who desperately want to help you adjust, and the need to feel loved—cared for by someone Micah can call his own—these are the things that pull Micah down. They all combine to make his judgment (which has been known to be faulty in the best of times) even more skewed. But it is the vulnerability that this author exposes in his lead character, Micah, that makes the reader invest their emotions so completely.
In a nutshell, Micah is now tempered, much like a rough piece of steel being shaped by intense heat. Micah visibly changes and grows in this story. His hubris is gone, for the most part, and the young man left behind is so very likable—unguarded and tenderhearted. We watch as he grapples with every emotion in the book, much like one would who has left home for the first time and feels the pressure to not disappoint those who have invested in him, or expose just how fearful he is about living away from all he knows. In many ways, this is Micah’s coming-of-age story, and it is beautifully written.
Micah Johnson Goes West by Sean Kennedy calls us to journey along with a young man who has the world at his feet and realizes that home is where his heart is happiest. It is a novel rich in emotion and humor that addresses what it’s like to grow up and move on to new horizons in all the best possible ways. I highly recommend this story to you.
You can buy Micha Johnson Goes West here: