HNS Book Review: CONVICTION by Kelly Loy Gilbert



Title: Conviction
Author: Kelly Loy Gilbert
Genre: Young Adult, Sports
Pages: 352
Year: 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Purchased
Amazon l B & N  l Book Depository l Goodreads


Ten years ago, God gave Braden a sign, a promise that his family wouldn’t fall apart the way he feared.

But Braden got it wrong: his older brother, Trey, has been estranged from the family for almost as long, and his father, the only parent Braden has ever known, has been accused of murder. The arrest of Braden’s father, a well-known Christian radio host, has sparked national media attention. His fate lies in his son’s hands; Braden is the key witness in the upcoming trial.

Braden has always measured himself through baseball. He is the star pitcher in his small town of Ornette, and his ninety-four-mile-per-hour pitch al- ready has minor league scouts buzzing in his junior year. Now the rules of the sport that has always been Braden’s saving grace are blurred in ways he never realized, and the prospect of playing against Alex Reyes, the nephew of the police officer his father is accused of killing, is haunting his every pitch.

Braden faces an impossible choice, one that will define him for the rest of his life, in this brutally honest debut novel about family, faith, and the ultimate test of conviction.

Reviewer’s Thoughts:

“This is why I hate it when people tell me I don’t know how you’re surviving—because that implies you get a choice. What do they think, you’re actually going to die? Because that’s not how it works. You don’t get an escape into nothing.”

An authentic, emotionally devastating book about abuse and faith.

I picked up Conviction a few months ago and during that time I wasn’t genuinely feeling it. But out of the blue, I decided to pick it up again. This time, the magic finally work. It is one of the wisest decision I have ever made because truly, Conviction is a remarkable story.

Conviction tells the story of Braden, the key witness to an upcoming trial about the murder of a police officer. He is the “star” pitcher of his High School baseball team and the youngest son of the popular, Christian radio host, who happened to be the prime suspect in the case.

And when he has to play against the team of the police offer’s nephew he is scared of the consequences he has to face.

Conviction is a very difficult book to read at countless times during the story as I catch myself being so angry and disheartened on behalf of Braden. I could feel my stomach lurching and my eyes glistening.

The deep attachment, the numbing sensation like you owe them something, like you have to pleased and obey them all the time, that twist forming in your stomach because you disappoint them and you feel like it’s your fault and you have to amend everything, blaming yourself because you didn’t meet their standards they forced on you.

Struggling with violent tendencies.

When you’re bracing yourself for the heated shouts and strike that is about to come, convincing yourself they’re not doing any wrong, that it might be sick and twisted but it is love, that nobody could ever love you but them.

That deep rooted feeling, you’re not worthy enough, feeling broken.


It is abuse.

The abuse portrayal in this book is gut wrenching and spot on. Gilbert presents in her writing how abuse massively affects someone in all these subtle and huge things. It is a tangled of mess. It takes a great courage to get out of that relationship, to convince yourself to get up every morning and live, to try to undo all those psychological damages  inflicted on you, to come terms in your own way and heal.

One of the things I don’t want to overlook is the spectacular voice of the narrator. I admit, I initially struggled with the first couple chapters but eventually the story moved forward to my liking.

Despite with my usual difficulty in forming attachments to male narrators, Braden is such a gripping character to read. The characterization is well done and complex. I could empathize with his journey.

Identically Braden’s older brother, Trey, is another fantastic addition to our minuscule cast. He left his father years ago. Now he is back to be Braden’s legal guardian. It’s been years since they last saw each other. They slowly have to establish their relationship once more. Like his younger brother, Trey is reserved and has a mysterious “past” behind him.

Similar to the abuse aspect, Gilbert also explores the complicated relationship between the two brothers. How their history and affiliation to their father is similar, but not entirely the same. It is painstaking and fascinating to read. The tenderness and fierce loyalty between Braeden and Trey is definitely my favorite thing about Conviction. It shows the author genuinely knows the craft she created.

Sure, it is not a perfect book for me. There are parts I didn’t like. For example, the thorough chapter of baseball. I guess I would have also liked it more if I were a religious person.

Overall, Conviction is an unshakable debut. It is gutsy and emotionally compelling.


About the Author

Kerly Sue is a self-proclaimed book reviewer and contributing writer at Hollywood News Source, formerly known as Young Adult Hollywood. In addition to being a full time book junkie, Sue also runs the first fansite for Vampire Academy’s Lucy Fry. When she’s not tucked between the pages of her books, you can find her screaming like a banshee on her personal blog. You can also follow Kerly Sue on her instagram and goodreads.

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