Remembering the 49 shots he witnessed that summer while Hannah was tied up to a tree, Patrick recalls, “I remember the gunshots made a wet sort of sound, phssh phssh phssh.”
The last shot hitting the flesh of the left eye.
12-year-old Patrick stands idle as the perpetrator, 14-year-old Matthew, aims the BB gun at Hannah.
The last shot left her bleeding mercilessly convincing the boys that she is no longer alive. They run away and hide but guilty conscious got the better of Patrick, so he runs back to untie Hannah and brings her back to town.
Fast forward 26 years later, the author, Christopher Yates reveal to us that Hannah is very much alive albeit blind in her left eye. The second surprise reveals Patrick and Hannah living under one roof. In a turn of events, Matthew reappears into their lives, which leaves us wondering what exactly he’s up to.
The story weaves back and forth between the past and present entering the minds of each character. Yates explores how they reached to this point and what happens years later, when the past wreaks havoc with the present.
Through Patrick’s narrative, we delve into his mind where he seems to be the most haunted by the past. Though he became Hannah’s savior, the true story wasn’t made known to Hannah: where he was during the shooting and why he didn’t intervene.
While the burden of this complicity eats through his thoughts, Hannah appears to be coping fine. However, the “monstrous secret” will be revealed with disastrous results.
In Grist Mill Road, Yates keeps the suspense high and the characters complex. We slowly come to understand that all is not as it seems and the characters are symbolically blind to each other.