Random House Books for Young Readers
Good looking, athletic, and smart, Gill Marsh is the most popular kid at Uruk High School, even though he is only a junior. When Enko, a new kid from Montreal, shows up, Gil is wary. Yet Enko is easy going and matches Gil's athletic prowess without being a threat. Soon, the two become inseparable friends, practicing, studying, and double-dating.
Then suddenly, to everyone's shock, Enko succombs to an aggressive cancer.
When Enko's parents take his body and return to Canada, Gil is unable to even say good bye. He is inconsolable. Determined to find Enko's grave, Gil sneaks away and heads north.
Closely based on the ancient story of Gilgamesh, the Sumerian King from 3000 BC, A. C. E. Bauer has carefully woven the classic elements of myth to follow Gil's quest and explore the grief and growth of a young man.
Why I Read This:
Who is Gil Marsh?
This is the one question I had that pushed me from not knowing anything about the book to wanting to read it, and soon. Of course the cover and synopsis are what drove me to that point, so they've obviously done their jobs well.
After reading the book I'm still not entirely sure who Gil Marsh is. Except... he's a track star, a loyal friend to the very end, and a bit on the dangerous side. It takes a lot of guts for a teen to cross international borders alone - parents and everyone else unaware of his whereabouts. So I'm going with brave as well.
Being Canadian, Gil's trek from the U.S. into Quebec wasn't as much as a learning experience for me as I know it will be for American and international readers, but I thought I'd mention it anyways because it is an aspect of the book that seems to stand out for me as important. Adding in bits and pieces of a culture or place to share with the reader is one of those things that could be done poorly, disrupting the flow of the flow of the story, but in this case I think it was done really well.
Every thing Gil learns about, every person that thinks differently than him all have parts to play in the story and plot pregression. Nothing is there just because the author wants you to know about it. You never end up feeling like "Oh no, another lesson here" but everything mentioned is still memorable enough that you end up learning something in the end anyways.
This book to me was all about certain scenes - they seem to have worked their way into my heart and have become difficult to forget. I love Gil and Enko for being such amazing best friends to each other that it almost feels like you are reading a love story. And I love Gil for being that brave, loyal guy who would do anything for his friend, even when he's no longer around. Gil and Enko breathe life into every scene and I think that's why I loved them so much.
For me, the thing that worked the least about Gil Marsh was the ending. It just didn't satisfy. There needed to be something to push the story over the edge from where it was into something amazing, absolutely unforgettable. I kept waiting, holding out for that moment, but it just never seemed to come. So when the end was a bit anti-climactic, it was sort of like, "That's it? You're really going to end it there?"
Overall, this is good story that. Do I know if it's a good re-telling of the Epic of Gilgamesh? I have no clue - haven't read it! But...there is so much that is memorable here. You might want to give this one a shot if you have the chance.
I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley.